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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Nick Mangold was dressed, backup center Colin Baxter was inactive, and just like that the Jets running game reappeared and Mark Sanchez enjoyed more time in the pocket. So is Mangold really make that much of a difference to the Jets offense?
“He does,” running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. “He’s a guy that’s been around, played a lot of football, he makes all our calls and he’s a heck of a football player. I mean he dominates the guys that he faces every week, so he does make a difference.”
Mangold said the right ankle, which sustained a high sprain in the last game the Jets won in Week 2, said the ankle felt pretty good.
“I wasn’t going to go out there if it wasn’t going to be able to do everything I wanted to,” Mangold said, “so it worked out well.”
His linemates LG Matt Slauson and RG Brandon Moore were happy to see him back.
“Nick is Nick, he’s the best in the league so having him is a big advantage for us,” Slauson said.
“Nick being in there of course helped, guys just rose to the occasion and played pretty well,” Moore said.
Moore noted that it was impossible to be too pleased with Mangold’s return in light of the fact that the Jets lost a winnable game. Mangold admitted that it leaves the 2-3 Jets with ground to make up.
“It’s a tough spot but there’s still a lot of football to be played.”
Although the running game improved with the return of the all-pro center, the Jets only converted 3 of 11 third downs.
“You don’t convert on third down it’s going to be very difficult to keep drives going,” Mangold said, “and we struggled there for a little bit.”