Po'uha battling back from back injury

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan spoke optimistically Thursday about Sione Po'uha's chances of returning to the lineup this week. At the same time, he admitted Po'uha's back injury was "much worse" than the initial reports.

Po'uha developed the back condition early in training camp, claiming it was nothing more than "tightness." The Jets shut him down for the entire preseason and the season opener. The veteran nose tackle returned for three games, but re-injured it and has missed the past three games.

"Obviously, it was much worse than I thought," Ryan said. "He played and, obviously, he re-aggravated the back. But he looks pretty good out there."

Ryan said they won't play him until he's healthy, but he added, "He moved around and looked pretty good (Wednesday). I think his strength numbers are up. I've been encouraged."

Po'uha is expected to practice Thursday on a limited basis. Three players who sat Wednesday -- LB Calvin Pace (shin), S Eric Smith (knee) and C Nick Mangold (ankle) -- are slated to be limited in practice.

LB Bart Scott (toe), RB Joe McKnight (ankle), TE Jeff Cumberland (wrist) and S LaRon Landry (heel) won't practice. Ryan indicated there's "a chance" that Scott won't play Sunday against the Dolphins. Scott, battling a dislocated toe for several weeks, played only nine plays against the Patriots. He has played in 119 straight games, the fifth-longest streak among active linebackers.