FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - The last time Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson played at Lincoln Financial Field was Nov. 16, 2010. It was Temple's final home game, a rainy Tuesday night against Ohio University. There were 16,433 fans at the stadium that night. Andy Reid's stock was scorching after the Eagles scored 59 points on national television the night before, Al Golden was still Temple's coach and Wilkerson was not yet a millionaire.
How times have changed.
Wilkerson left Temple after the season - so did Golden, for that matter - and became a first-round pick by the Jets, signing a 4-year contract worth more than $7 million. On Sunday, he'll play the Eagles on the same field he played his college games. A Jets victory would give Reid a losing season, further illustrating what's happened in South Philadelphia since Wilkerson last walked through the stadium's entrance.
For his part, Wilkerson is a valuable member of the Jets' defense. He starts at left end in the team's 3-4 defensive alignment, recording 35 tackles and one sack in his first 13 games.
"Everybody is just as talented as you," Wilkerson said earlier this week about the adjustment to the NFL. "The room for error is very small. And the speed of the game is different."
He keeps in touch with the Temple program, making sure he's updated with how the program is doing even after Golden's departure. He does not know if any of his friends will make the trip down Broad Street for the game, as his former teammates will be just returning from Albuquerque, where they play in the New Mexico Bowl tomorrow. The tickets he's allotted are going to his parents.
He can only hope to duplicate what he considers his finest performance at the stadium: a sack and forced fumble on Sept. 9, 2010, to send a game against Central Michigan into overtime in an eventual Owls victory.
Defensive back Marquice Cole looks like the only Jets player in jeopardy of not playing Sunday. Cole has a knee injury and was described as "very questionable" after not practicing for a second consecutive day.
Defensive linemen Mike DeVito and Marcus Dixon, guard Brandon Moore and defensive back Eric Smith were all limited in practice. Moore did not practice Wednesday.