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Nick Mangold encouraged about return after Friday practice

Jets center Nick Mangold speaks with a

 Jets center Nick Mangold speaks with a reporter during training camp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Though he stopped short of predicting that he will play Sunday against the Patriots, Nick Mangold sounded fairly upbeat Friday after practicing with the Jets on a limited basis.

“I’m continuing to work to get back,” the center said. “Hopefully I’ll be back this week, but I’m continuing to get better every day.”

Mangold, who suffered an ankle sprain against the Ravens on Oct. 23 when teammate Ryan Clady rolled up on his leg, is officially listed as questionable. Coach Todd Bowles refused to speculate on whether he will be ready to go against the Patriots.

Mangold has missed three straight games with the ankle injury. Before this season, he had missed a total of four games since starting his career in 2006. The injury has been particularly frustrating as he was in a walking boot, then out of a walking boot, then back in it again.

The Jets had a bye last weekend, and Mangold had been hopeful that the extra week off would give him the time he needed to make his way back. He said Bowles ultimately will make the decision, adding that he is not worried that he hasn’t had enough reps in practice to get back out on the field.

“I think I can go out there without any reps,” he said. “That’s my mentality. “

It clearly hasn’t been easy for him to watch from the sideline.

“The games are crazy long when you’re not playing them,” he said. “It’s definitely a different view. I will have to look back down the road to see if I’ve learned anything from it. It’s been a different experience, trying to help out from the sidelines.

“It’s been frustrating and disappointing, not being out there and contributing. I’ve been trying to do everything behind the scenes to do what I could, to help out. I think it’s tough. Having gone this long without playing the game isn’t fun. Hopefully I’ll get back as soon as I can.”

With Mangold out, the Jets’ offensive line has performed admirably, especially when it comes to the running game. With Wesley Johnson starting at center, the team rushed for at least 139 yards in each of the three games.

Notes & quotes: Bowles said he was not surprised to hear that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady returned to practice Friday after missing practice Wednesday and Thursday with a sore knee. He also said the Patriots are so good that it really doesn’t matter who is out. “They won without [Rob Gronkowski], they won without Brady,’’ he said. “They have a really good football team . . . Those guys do a really good job of covering up if someone doesn’t play, so we just have to get ready to play the team and not the people on the team.” Brady would not commit to playing against the Jets. “We’ll see,” he said after Friday’s practice.With AP

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