Dare we call it the next episode of "As the Knee Turns"? This week's Jets quarterback situation features another injury to that important joint, suffered by Ryan Fitzpatrick late in the third quarter at Miami, courtesy of 309-pound DT Jordan Phillips collapsing on his leg in the pocket.
But Fitzpatrick, trying to provide stability not only for his knee but for the Jets' offense, says he still plans to be taking the snaps Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Los Angeles Rams.
"I'm definitely optimistic that I'll be able to go out there and play," Fitzpatrick said after today's practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, "and I'll do everything I can from now until then to make sure that happens."
This is not to say that his knee is feeling great. "I mean, it's a knee sprain," he said. "It's not something that I'm happy is there or feels great. But I think I'll be OK."
That's because of the fact that he was able to return against the Dolphins, the treatment he's receiving from the Jets' medical and training staffs, and because he'll be limited at practice this week.
"He threw the ball around. He didn't run around as much," head coach Todd Bowles said. "He's still getting treatment, but he's getting better. We just have to see how much he can tolerate. ... I'll see how he's feeling tomorrow and Friday and get a better gauge and see how many reps and how much running around he can do."
Bryce Petty has stepped in to help run the first offense. Fitzpatrick admitted as the starter he's not fond of giving up any reps, even when necessary.
"Selfishly, you want to take them all," Fitz said. "But I've gotten a lot of reps with these guys so I don't think you really need that many. I would hate to live in that world where every week I wasn't really taking many reps. But for a week or two I don't think it's a big deal if I'm not getting many reps during the week."
Petty's in PositionIn any event, if Fitzpatrick goes Sunday vs. the Rams, he'll be wearing a brace, as he did to finish up vs. the 'Fins. And Petty will be ready if called on again for the second half of a field goal drive or more.
"It was great. I was smiling the whole time, inside. I was trying to stay focused on the outside looking in," Petty said of his pro regular-season debut. "But I had a blast and it was fun getting my first NFL action outside of preseason and practice. So I'm excited for another opportunity."
That's not to say the second-year signalcaller is plotting for a way to spirit the starting job away from Fitzpatrick.
"He felt good. I would be upset with him if he didn't go back in if he felt good. He's a competitor, a really tough guy, even from Arizona," Petty said with some sly Southwestern humor. "It was just great for me to feel like I stepped in and helped the team when we needed it, and that's all you can do is contribute when you're asked."
No. 19 Primed to PlayThe Jets have brought Devin Smith off the PUP list and if he's active for the Rams, he'll be able to make his first contributions since the Tennessee game 11 months ago when he hurt his knee. Bowles said it still make take some time for No. 19 to return to his rookie role.
"We'll see how he fits in the game plan," Bowles said. "We have a bunch of receivers now, so it's going to be hard fighting for playing time right there. But we'll sort it out during the week."
"I'm still practicing like I've been the last three weeks, so know it's just all about being prepared for this game," he told me. "I've been in the meeting room since we came back at the start of training camp till now. I prepared myself like I was still playing."
Was it hard being patient for so long for this week to arrive?
"At times, but you've got to learn to be disciplined in being patient," he said philosophically. "No my time is up, and I'll be ready."
Best Practice Images as the Jets Begin Prep for the Rams