Jets WR Coles cleared to practice after playing streak ends because of concussion

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Laveranues Coles felt left out as he saw his New York Jets teammates getting ready for their game against Washington. After a few minutes, the wide receiver couldn't take it anymore.

"It brings tears to your eyes," Coles said Monday. "I had to actually get up and walk out of the locker room while the guys were getting dressed because, generally, that's me getting dressed."

Coles missed the game Sunday with a concussion, ending his streaks of 104 starts and 107 straight games played. He'll be back on the field Tuesday, though, after being cleared by doctors to resume practicing.

"It's one of those decisions I just have to deal with," Coles said. "I'm sure they made the decision based on the long term and not something short term, which was probably what I was looking at. It's a decision I'm glad they made."

Coles had been the only wide receiver to play in every game since 2001. The last time he didn't start was at Baltimore in 2000, the final game of his rookie season.

"It was different for me," he said. "I was disappointed in myself in that I wasn't able to go out with my teammates and get between those lines with them. It's just one of them things that I've always prided myself in doing is being there for my team, and I wasn't able to be there for them."

He was, actually. Before the opening kickoff Sunday, Coles -- wearing green sweats instead of his green and white uniform and helmet -- hugged many of his teammates to wish them luck, including new starting quarterback Kellen Clemens. Coles' good friend Chad Pennington joined him after being demoted from starting quarterback to backup. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma was also just a spectator for the 23-20 overtime loss after recently being placed on injured reserve with a knee injury.

"Trust me, it was one of the weirdest things I went through in my career, and it wasn't a great feeling, I can tell you that," Coles said.

The concussion, which happened after a hard tackle two weeks ago against Buffalo, is believed to be the second Coles has suffered in 10 months. He was hit by Miami's Zach Thomas during a game last Christmas and it was reported Coles suffered a concussion. Coles was back in the starting lineup the following weekend against Oakland.

No such luck this time. Coles leaned on the support of friends and relatives, who helped him get through the week.

"They let me know that knowing the type of person that I am, that I wouldn't be looked at differently if I didn't step on the field," he said.

One of those calls came from former Jets receiver Wayne Chrebet, whose career was cut short after a series of concussions.

"I knew what he was calling for and I didn't answer, but it's one of those things where I knew the first thing he was going to say was, `No. Don't go out there,"' Coles said. "He did leave a long, detailed voice message and I was going to listen."

Despite the Jets' 1-8 start, Coles can't wait to get back on the field and hopes his teammates feel the same.

"What I look for is guys who are going to continue to fight and still have the same amount of drive that they had when we were 0-0," he said. "It's easy to be a part of something when it's doing well and going great. When things aren't going as well as you would like for them to go is when you find out a lot about guys. It's not only about now, but it's about the future."

With a bye next Sunday, the Jets will practice Tuesday and Wednesday before they break for four days off. Then they'll get back to work with games against Pittsburgh and at Dallas -- on Thanksgiving.

"It's hard to say, but you hope we just put that half of the season behind us and when we come back, just look forward to basically starting fresh," Coles said. "Even though percentage-wise, numbers-wise and year-wise, we're not starting fresh, hopefully we can look at it that way."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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