FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Nick Mangold is getting closer to returning - slowly but surely.
The New York Jets center is questionable to play Sunday against the New England Patriots with a sprained right ankle that has sidelined him the last three games. Coach Todd Bowles announced Friday that no decision had been made on Mangold's status.
''It's been frustrating and disappointing, not being out there and not contributing,'' Mangold said. ''I've been trying to do everything that I could behind the scenes to try to help out. It's tough. Having gone this long without playing a game isn't fun, so hopefully I'll get back as soon as I can.''
Mangold was limited for the second straight day, a sign that the ankle is improving. He ran a little Thursday during practice, marking the first time he did so since being hurt against Baltimore on Oct. 23.
Mangold, in his 11th season, was asked if the opponent being the Patriots added any sense of urgency to him trying to get back on the field this week.
''Division opponent, this is the first time that I will have missed the game against them,'' he said. ''So, it would be difficult.''
Having been forced to sit out for an extended period has caused Mangold to consider his playing future. While it's uncertain if he'll remain with the Jets beyond this season - he's a $9.075 million salary cap hit next year - Mangold has no thoughts of retiring anytime soon.
''If anything, it's made me want to play more so I can keep going, because I've missed being out there,'' he said. ''It's probably going to make me linger on longer than my body will want me to. It gives you the thought that, hey, this game could be gone at any moment. So, you've got to enjoy the time that you get out there.''
He appeared on his way to getting back a few weeks ago, but said he overdid things in his rehabilitation and ended up back in a walking boot. Mangold is feeling better and got ''some good reps in'' at practice on Friday.
''It's been just a gradual process after having the setback that I did,'' he said. ''Just trying to get better each day, and it's going in the right direction.''
Wesley Johnson has been solid while filling in for Mangold, who has been stuck on the sideline during games and trying to find a role even though he hasn't been playing. Mangold never missed more than two straight games before this injury.
''It's been weird,'' he said. ''It was tough, the last game (against Los Angeles on Nov. 13), because it was the first home game I've ever missed. So, going through that whole process and coming into our locker room and being in our stadium, that was a different experience.''
Mangold has tried to ''stay out of the way'' while also being ''eyes for the coach, eyes for Johnson and those guys'' where he might see things from the sideline that could help.
''The games are crazy long when you're not playing in them,'' he said with a smile. ''It's definitely a different view. I'll have to look back somewhere down the road to see if I've learned anything from it, but it's definitely been a different experience trying to help out from the sideline and not on the field.''
Meanwhile, cornerbacks Nick Marshall and Marcus Williams were both ruled out against the Patriots with ankle injuries.
Defensive tackle Steve McLendon is questionable with a hamstring issue that limited him at practice Thursday and Friday.
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall (foot) and linebacker Bruce Carter (quadriceps) fully practiced after being limited. Carter has missed the last three games with the injury, and Friday marked the first time he was a full participant since he was hurt against the Ravens.
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL