Nick Mangold sprains ankle, to get MRI

Updated: September 19, 2011, 7:38 PM ET
By Jane McManus | ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- All-Pro center Nick Mangold sprained his ankle during the first quarter of the New York Jets' 32-3 win against the Jaguars on Sunday when Daryl Smith rolled over the center's leg.

X-rays were negative, but Mangold, who came into the locker room after the game on crutches and with a black walking boot on his right leg, will undergo an MRI on Monday.

"Just precaution," Mangold said of using crutches. "I felt like I could give it a go, but it didn't want to agree with me on that. I don't know, we're just playing it safe."

Mangold said the ankle not being broken is "a good start," but was unsure how long -- or if -- the injury would sideline him.

"I don't expect it to be anything too crazy," he said.

Jets coach Rex Ryan expressed confidence in rookie Colin Baxter, an undrafted offensive lineman the Jets picked up off waivers on Sept. 4 from San Diego and who finished the game at center.

"Baxter stepped in and did a nice job," Ryan said. "It's a similar system. We got him from San Diego so the terminology is similar with (offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer) coming from San Diego."

Still, the uncertainty is frustrating for Mangold. In his sixth season, he has never missed a game. The durable center has started for 82 straight regular-season games.

"Very frustrating," Mangold said. "It's not what I want, it's not what I expected, it's difficult."

The Jets are thin when it comes to the offensive line. Left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, left guard Matt Slauson and right guard Brandon Moore were the remaining veterans with Mangold out. Right tackle Wayne Hunter has struggled in his first two games as a starter despite a year of success as a backup. Of the current backups, Rob Turner has a broken right leg and Vlad Ducasse struggled when on the field in the preseason. The Jets also have Baxter and guard Caleb Schlauderaff.

"You've got to have confidence in your backups," Hunter said. "I was a backup, and I was glad they had confidence in me."

Mangold thought that he would be able to go back into the game after feeling pain in the first-quarter collision with the Jets up 9-3. He stood on the sideline, but his ankle didn't respond the way he hoped it would.

"I was trying," Mangold said, "moving around a little bit and I couldn't really do much with it and I knew I'd probably put our team in a worse position by trying to go out there."

Midway through halftime, his status was downgraded to doubtful and Mangold was in the locker room going through medical tests.

If Mangold is not able to go next week, Baxter could be tapped to start. Moore said it meant extra hours for the offensive line this week to get the rookie reps with the first team. The line has some things to fix -- Hunter had two penalties, Moore was called for an illegal man downfield when Baxter gave the wrong snap count.

"Tough position to be put in. He just got here he doesn't get reps with the ones," Moore said. "Like most backups he's got to learn through the book and be able to come in when he's called upon."

Baxter had surgery on his right meniscus during his senior year at Arizona last December. He said it had to be stitched back together but despite the extensive nature of the repair he hasn't felt any pain or instability. The stitches are barely visible.

"The other team doesn't care that the starting center's gone down," Baxter said. "You just got to go in there play ball and execute it."

Whether or not the Jets should have a little more depth, rather than relying on a rookie to possibly go up against Oakland or Baltimore, Moore said it's academic.

"I don't work in personnel so depth charts and depth questions I really don't get involved in," Moore said. "The guys that are here are going to have to be able to play and you move from here."

Jane McManus covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Jane McManus has covered New York sports since 1998 and began covering football just before Brett Favre's stint with the Jets. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, The Journal News and The New York Times. Follow Jane on Twitter.

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