Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Sore Back Not an Excuse for Jets' Po'uha

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Sore Back Not an Excuse for Jets' Po'uha

Article excerpt

FLORHAM PARK -- Sione Po'uha won't tell you how much he's hurting.

He won't tell you that he's slept in a hyperbaric chamber much of this season, trying to heal a sore back that has hampered him since training camp.

And even after the Jets nose tackle admitted he will undergo an MRI next week following Sunday's season finale in Buffalo to determine the extent of the damage and if it will require off- season surgery, he barely acknowledged the injury.

As another drama unfolded Friday in Jets-land -- coach Rex Ryan denying a report claiming he would welcome being fired if the team didn't make significant personnel and coaching changes to the offense -- Po'uha quietly battled through the final practice of the season.

"I'm a man of principle. I approach every game, every week the same," he said when asked about the distraction-filled season. "That's professionalism, going in there and giving it your all. I don't really let conditions affect the way I practice."

There have been a lot of "conditions" swirling around the Jets. The three-headed quarterback controversy and the Tim Tebow debacle. Anonymously-sourced stories. Embarrassing play.

But just minutes before Ryan shot down the New York Daily News report, the 6-foot-3, 325-pound Po'uha labeled his sore back merely "a hindrance."

After all, there are no excuses in football.

"I guess it hurts," he relented. "You have back tightness, back soreness."

"He's fought through a lot," linebacker Bryan Thomas said. "I'm not sure how serious his back was -- I never saw his medical reports. But the guy's been getting treatment all year round. I imagine he's fighting through a lot of pain."

Po'uha, 33, has sat out four games and been limited to about 20 snaps a contest.

The Jets have missed his presence, seeing the production of one of the NFL's best run-stuffers decline due to the injury.

After posting 45, 59 and 58 tackles respectively from 2009 to 2011, he has just 28 in 11 games this season. …

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