Martin is unsolved mystery at Jets camp

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- These days, Curtis Martin seems more like a ghost than a running back.

The No. 4 all-time leading rusher has been squirreled away inside the Jets complex rehabbing his right knee, making it a mystery when he will play again. Even teammates sound spooked when asked about how their teammate is doing.

"Curtis? I haven't really talked to him," said fellow running back Derrick Blaylock. "I really don't know how he's feeling right now."

Curious, considering coach Eric Mangini said that Martin has attended all position and team meetings.

Then there is Chad Pennington, who said, "I haven't seen Curtis that much. I've been going from meetings to eating back to meetings to rehab. My schedule's been so full, I haven't gotten a chance to sit down and talk to him."

Seems that is the way Mangini wants it. Martin has made one public appearance since he was placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list the day before training camp opened, and there has been no update on his condition or when he could return.

"Curtis is here every single day. He's working hard, he's rehabbing, our approach has been the same," Mangini said. "There's been no change in his status, with either our approach or his approach."

Martin, with 14,101 career yards rushing, is locked up tight indoors. Last weekend when the Jets had two practices at the Meadowlands, Mangini said Martin made the trip. But once again, he was nowhere to be found. Not even when the team had an open 10-minute autograph session.

Seems as if the Jets are going through great pains to disguise what is happening to Martin. He underwent arthroscopic surgery in December to clean out his knee. At the time, he said he expected to start running again in February. He also said there was no ligament or structural damage.

But it has been eight months since then, and many are now starting to question whether the 33-year-old running back will play again.

Dophins sign No. 1 pick

MIAMI -- Defensive back Jason Allen signed a six-year contract with the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday, ending a 10-day contract impasse between the team and its first-round pick.

Allen, who was selected 16th overall, and the Dolphins agreed late Monday to the deal that reportedly includes up to $9 million in guaranteed money. He was on the field with the team Tuesday morning for the first of the day's two scheduled workouts.

With Allen's signing, only Arizona quarterback Matt Leinart -- the No. 10 overall selection -- remains as a holdout among this year's first-round draft picks.

Broncos' Bell vaults to front

DENVER -- Mike Bell, an undrafted rookie, has leapfrogged veterans Tatum Bell and Ron Dayne to claim the No. 1 running back spot with the Denver Broncos. Bell becomes the latest to assume a job that has routinely produced 1,000-yard rushers during the last 10 years.

Bell entered camp as the fourth-string running back, but quickly impressed the coaching staff when they went back and analyzed film from training camp.

-- The Associated Press

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