FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Nick Mangold isn't used to sitting out so long.
One game was tough, and so was missing two. Three games? That's a career first that the New York Jets center would rather not experience.
Mangold has a sprained right ankle that is likely to keep him out Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.
''It's getting better, slowly but surely,'' Mangold said Thursday. ''It's been frustrating being out this long and letting my guys down on the line and then the offense. I don't like not playing, so it's been difficult, but it seems to be trending where it's going up. So, hopefully it'll keep getting better and we'll get out there as soon as possible.''
The seven-time Pro Bowl selection has missed just six games in his 11-year NFL career, but never more than two in a row. A sprained ankle kept him out of two straight in 2011, but a setback with his current injury will probably keep him out for at least three straight.
Mangold was initially hurt on Oct. 23 against Baltimore when a teammate rolled into the back of his leg. He was replaced in that game by Wesley Johnson, who has started the last two in Mangold's place. Mangold remains in a walking boot after briefly getting out of it last week.
''I was moving around and felt pretty good, and after a while, it wasn't feeling good,'' he said. ''They said we had to put it back in the boot and see if we could get it to calm down again before we start ramping things up again.''
Mangold blamed it on overdoing things when the ankle wasn't yet healed enough.
''It was probably my own stupidity of trying to do too much too soon,'' he said. ''I'm not very good at listening to doctors. I hear what they say, but I'm not very good at listening.''
Mangold has a reputation of being a tough competitor who has played through various injuries and returned from ailments that appeared initially to possibly sideline him for some time. This one, however, has been different.
''I've never had to deal with a so-called setback, so that's been difficult,'' he said. ''Usually, I've always trended in the right direction and as soon as I got injured, that next day was the worst I felt and I'd continue to get better. To have that go backward has been difficult. That's just the nature of how this injury has gone. It's something you have to try to work through.''
The 32-year-old center insisted he has no doubts that he'll be able to return soon from the injury.
''Oh, of course. That's a given,'' he said. ''It's just when. Got this week coming up and then the bye week, and it usually helps to get the body healthy. Hopefully I'll be back as soon as possible. When that is, I don't know, but I'm always optimistic that the next week is the week I'll be back in there.''
In other injury news, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day with a sprained left knee.
''He's getting a little better,'' coach Todd Bowles said. ''He's taking some reps. He has to do some more, though.''
Friday's practice will likely go a long way in helping determine whether Fitzpatrick or second-year QB Bryce Petty will start against the Rams. While some fans and media are clamoring for the Jets to start Petty, Bowles has remained steadfast in that Fitzpatrick will start as long as he's healthy.
''For me to make a quarterback change, I'd have to have a quarterback controversy,'' Bowles said. ''Ryan is the starter, Bryce is the backup.''
Linebackers Bruce Carter (quadriceps) and Josh Martin (concussion), tight end Kellen Davis (elbow) and cornerback Marcus Williams (ankle) did not practice. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall (foot), right tackle Breno Giacomini (shoulder), linebacker Darron Lee (ankle), defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle), cornerback Buster Skrine (knee) and offensive tackle Brandon Shell (shoulder) were all limited.
NOTES: Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey acknowledged he was uncertain of the distance on third down early in the third quarter of the Jets' 27-23 loss at Miami on Sunday, when New York faced a third-and-1 but went with an empty backfield and Fitzpatrick threw incomplete to RB Matt Forte. ''That's a question that you ask yourself when you go back to it,'' Gailey said. ''You can always do something better that might have made a difference. When the ball goes on the ground, to be honest with you, I thought it was third-and-2. I thought it was third-and-2, 2 1/2 maybe, and then all of a sudden when I look up after I've called the play, it's third-and-1, a little over 1, maybe 1 1/2. I might have made a different call if I thought it was that down and distance.'' ... Bowles said the Jets used C.J. Spiller at kick returner over Jalin Marshall last Sunday because Marshall was playing more snaps on offense. The coach added that Spiller would continue to return kicks against Los Angeles. Spiller, signed last week, returned two kickoffs for 37 yards against the Dolphins.
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