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A day after the Jets lost to the Falcons, 25-20, and running back Matt Forte said the Jets need to run the ball more, Forte and coach Todd Bowles addressed his comments. Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, in Florham Park.
Andy Vasquez/NorthJersey.com

Thursday night’s game against the Bills marks the only time the Jets will play in prime time this season. So it’s understandable that Jets rookie Jamal Adams is excited. 

Adams, the sixth overall pick April’s draft, who just celebrated his 22nd birthday last month, is looking forward to having the NFL spotlight focused exclusively on him and his teammates  (8:25 p.m. on CBS and NFL Network). 

“Primetime? Thursday night? Everybody’s watching,” Adams said with a grin. “I think even my grandma might even be watching. It’s primetime, she might get [that] channel.” 

But veteran running back Matt Forte, who is in his 10th NFL season and will be celebrating his 32nd birthday in December, has a different perspective. 

Football games take a massive toll on players’ bodies, obviously. It takes several days for just the general soreness to go away. And while the NFL prides itself on recent strides it has taken to enhance player safety, Forte says that playing games on Thursday night don’t mesh with that message.

“If they’re interested in player safety, it’s not very conducive to player safety,” Forte said this week. “Especially if you’re trying to go out there and to win games and you’re in a tight spot [in the standings], you might be going out there with players playing injured out there … Three or four days in between games is not conducive to players being healthy out there, for the long run.”

The NFL introduced the regular Thursday night game in 2006. And for several years, it was confined to roughly the final month of the season. But in 2012, the NFL expanded their Thursday night football schedule so that it would begin in Week 2 and all teams would play in primetime. Suddenly, every team in the NFL was being asked to play a game on only 96 hours of rest.

That hasn’t sat well with the players, according to Forte.

“Nobody’s really a big fan of it,” Forte said. “We play Sunday to Sunday, or even Monday to Sunday for a reason, because you get that much time in between games and it’s needed. [But] that’s the way it is. And it’s tough to do, but it’s not like we’re just not going to go out there and play. But it’s definitely something tough that we health-wise have to deal with.”

A year ago, the Jets were fortunate with the scheduling of their Thursday night game. They played the Bills in Week 2, before their bodies were tired and sore from a season of pounding. But there’s nothing kind about the scheduling of this Thursday night game. The Jets have played on eight straight Sundays and still have more two games before their bye week. 

They will have nine off days after this game, but Forte said that it won’t be very helpful to banged-up players. 

“Not really, because it’s not going to do that much better for you just because you have a couple days on the back end,” Forte said. “Really, on Thursday’s when you’re going out to practice you’re still sore and aching from the game on Sunday. So you’re going into another game and playing four quarters of that, and that’s double-time.”

The physicality isn’t the only problem with Thursday night football. The lack of time in between opponents makes it hard to prepare. Six days of watching game film, installing new plays and general preparation are cut down to three grueling days in which players must figure out how to rest their bodies and learn the game plan.  

“Time-management is the biggest key,” Jets quarterback Josh McCown said. “It’s trying to blend the walkthrough time and practice time with being able to recover from the previous game as well, and then also getting your film time in. So you’re squeezing all that into a few days so you really have to be diligent because of the window of time. You can’t just go, “Man I’m going to do this and I’ll catch up on that tomorrow,” because tomorrow will be Thursday before you know it and now you’re playing and you’re not prepared.”

And there’s one more added complication. The teams can’t really practice very hard because the players’ bodies aren’t capable of doing that so soon after a game. 

But when asked if all this affects the quality of play, Forte was less than definitive. 

“I’m not sure,” Forte said. “You’d have to ask the viewers that. I go out there and give my 100 percent best every time. All I know is I’m going to give my best out there, no matter how I feel.”

Email: vasqueza@northjersey.com