Pouha's back tightness puts opener in doubt

As the New York Jets prepare for their first meeting with the divisional rival Buffalo Bills, they may have to hit the field without a key member of their defensive line.

It's an increasing likelihood that the New York Jets will play their season opener without starting nose tackle Sione Pouha. The seventh year lineman experienced back tightness during preseason forcing him to the sidelines. According to Rex Ryan, Pouha could possibly have suffered a setback during his recovery this week, putting his status in jeopardy for Sunday's contest against the Buffalo Bills.

"Well, sometimes backs are tricky," noted Ryan of Pouha's injury. "If you go out there too early and have a setback with it, that can really set you back. But he's been getting better. He actually has weights down, he's been able to do some things, but he really hasn't practiced football. I don't want to say he's ready to go. Playing that position, I don't know if you can just run out there without competing on the practice field with each other."

With only one day of practice under his belt this week, the 33-year-old is plugging away at his recovery, making sure he does everything in his power to get back healthy and on the field as soon as possible.

"I think I'm a little bit ahead of exactly where I should be," added Pouha on his road to recovery. "We kind of took an assessment last week to find out where I was and I was (about) four or five days ahead of schedule. My job is to make sure I'm ready to go."

With Pouha's back ailing, the Jets would turn to second-year nose tackle Kenrick Ellis to fill the starting role. The former University of Hampton product impressed the Jets' coaching staff this preseason amassing nine tackles, half a sack and two tackles for a loss in parts of three preseason games. Ryan and company don't want to rush Pouha's recovery thereby risking further injury, so they've given Ellis a vote of confidence as Gang Green's nose tackle of the future.

That's more the thing where (with) Sione it's like, let's make sure he's back (healthy) because Kenrick has been outstanding," expressed Ryan. "And let's make sure Sione's back (healthy). Let's not have him (out there) if he's not ready to go, at or near 100 percent, then we don't need to put him out there right now. So let's make sure we get Sione back healthy. But Kenrick clearly is really playing well for us."

Rick Laughland covers the New York Jets for Greenandwhitereport.com

You can follow him on Twitter @rlaughland By: TwitterButtons.com

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