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Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Wilkerson: Run D will return to No. 1

By Rich Cimini

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- If there's one thing the New York Jets have done consistently well, it's stop the run -- and now that, too, is being questioned after two shaky performances.

Enough is enough, according to Muhammad Wilkerson, who vowed the Jets will return to the No. 1 ranking in run defense.

"We have to get back to No. 1," Wilkerson said Wednesday. "We were No. 1 for I don't know how many weeks. These last two weeks, we haven't been doing too good up front. I think we're going to take care of that this week, though."

The Jets face the Carolina Panthers, who leap-frogged them in the rankings. The Panthers are No. 1 against the run, allowing 79.4 yards per game. The Jets are No. 2 at 82.6 yards.

Wilkerson & Co. were knocked from their perch after surrendering 275 yards in the last two games, including 123 yards to Marcel Reece, the Oakland Raiders' fourth-string running back.

"It's important, not just being no. 1, but we want to be the toughest team in the NFL," linebacker Demario Davis said. "Being able to stop the run definitely says something about your toughness."

The Panthers (9-4) are a run-oriented team, led by DeAngelo Williams (662 yards), quarterback Cam Newton (495) and fullback Mike Tolbert (313).