NFL

Jets' Cromartie feels better, hopes to play Sunday vs. Panthers

Antonio Cromartie #31 of the New York Jets warms up before NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 17, 2013
Jets CB Antonio Cromartie hopes to play Sunday.
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP)

Antonio Cromartie has his sights set on playing Sunday. Now, it's up to the doctors.

The New York Jets cornerback's concussion symptoms have dissipated, but he's still going through the NFL's protocol on head injuries. Cromartie was limited at practice Thursday while wearing a red no-contact jersey after sitting out Wednesday.

''I feel good, I feel fine,'' Cromartie said. ''But you never know how the mind works.''

He was injured last Sunday when he collided with teammate Ed Reed in the third quarter while defending a pass to Oakland's Rod Streater, who turned it into a 48-yard score. Cromartie appeared dazed, as did Reed, but both were able to jog off the field and to the sideline.

Cromartie passed an initial medical exam and was allowed to return to the game, as was Reed. But with about five or six minutes remaining in the game, Cromartie began to experience headaches. He didn't tell the team doctors, though, until after the game - something that didn't sit well with the team.

''It was just that last drive,'' said Cromartie, who acknowledged the doctors were disappointed he didn't disclose his symptoms sooner. ''I felt it during the drive. After that drive, that was it for us anyway. I went in right after the game and told them I was feeling a little headache, something like that.''

Cromartie underwent a concussion test at that point, and the team has been easing him back, per the protocol. The fact he was able to practice a little, even with the no-contact jersey, is a promising development for the Jets.

New York takes on Cam Newton and the Panthers at Carolina on Sunday, and Cromartie would be the likely defender on Steve Smith if he plays.

''Definitely, if it's a possibility that I'm cleared this week, then I'm definitely looking forward to it,'' Cromartie said. ''Just the way he decides to play, the passion that he plays with would be fun to go up against.''

Coach Rex Ryan indicated the Jets might not know if Cromartie will be available until shortly before kickoff.

''The big thing is, I'm not saying he's going to play because doctors make that determination and, quite honestly, that decision isn't made until game day,'' Ryan said. ''A guy can look good and all that stuff, but really that final decision whether the young man plays or not is actually game day.''

If Cromartie can't go, Ellis Lankster would be a potential starter at cornerback opposite Dee Milliner. Ryan said Kyle Wilson wouldn't be an option in that spot because of his role in the nickel defense.

''That's a huge assignment, by the way,'' Ryan said. ''It sounds like you're the backup, but no, that's not the case. He's a starting nickel and he plays.''

Wide receiver Stephen Hill did not practice for the second straight day with a knee ailment that kept him out of the game against the Raiders. Safety Ed Reed got a ''rest day'' off from practice.

Wide receiver Santonio Holmes (foot, hamstring) and tight end Kellen Winslow (knee) were limited, while linebacker Garrett McIntyre (knee) was a full participant after being limited Wednesday.

Tagged: Panthers, Jets, Ed Reed, Antonio Cromartie

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