The next painful news story on the Jets' injury front page came today when head coach Rex Ryan and linebacker Calvin Pace both talked on conference calls about Pace's fractured foot, for which he'll undergo surgery Monday in Charlotte, N.C.
"We'll know more about the extent of the injury obviously after the surgery," Ryan said this afternoon. "We're feeling good that it could be a speedy recovery, but any time you have surgery, we don't know the specifics right now. He's definitely going to miss the first game, I think that's pretty safe to say."
"The doctors are going to look at it and assess what needs to be done," said Pace. "Hopefully it'll still be a somewhat speedy recovery. I'll probably definitely miss the first game, it's safe to say. Beyond that I don't really have an idea."
Pace said he sustained the injury on the first defense's last series Friday night against the Redskins at New Meadowlands Stadium.
"It was a three-step drop and their tackle tried to cut me to block me. I tried to block him away and I guess his helmet hit the side of my foot," Pace said. "At that point it hurt a little bit so I came out of the game. They took me back to the locker room and X-rayed me and it showed a fracture."
Dirty play? Pace said no.
"Nah, that's football," he said. "Different people have different blocking styles. ... I guess I should've got my foot out of the way a little quicker."
So Pace will be sidelined again for at least for some part of September, and Ryan, coordinator Mike Pettine and the defense will adjust. Ryan was asked if he had thought about Adalius Thomas, his former 'backer in Baltimore who's been on the street since New England released him this offseason. He said he had some of those thoughts but added that as of today Thomas is not being brought in for a physical.
Jason Taylor is poised if called on to receive his 12th consecutive opening-day starting assignment (see Radar entry from earlier this afternoon). And behind Taylor and Bryan Thomas at OLB is Jamaal Westerman, not to mention Vernon Gholston, who has been playing mostly D-end this camp but started three of the first four games at OLB last season due to Pace's four-game NFL suspension.
"That's a question that's going to be told," Gholston said about if he'll be taking his hand out of the dirt almost as quickly as he went down into a three-point stance this offseason. "In preseason I've kind of been doing a little bit of both. I guess maybe the coaches kind of foresaw something like this. Allowing me to play inside and outside to give me a little bit of work at both kind of covers the situation.
"The biggest thing for me when I go out there is just making something happen."
For Pace, the most important happening will be inside his foot and how the bone knits up in the coming days and weeks.
"I'm still upbeat, I really am," he said. "Stuff happens in football. I'll say this: It's better to get injured playing and not having to sit out four games because of a silly mistake. I'll be cheering the guys on, and once I come back to New Jersey, I'll hit the rehab hard and try to work my way back."
All concerned, from Ryan through his players, acknowledge losing No. 97 does nothing to help a top-ranked unit that's already been down one starter through camp due to Darrelle Revis' holdout.
But the coach said don't cry for his defense.
"We've got enough depth, we have enough good football players that offenses need to be worried about our defense," he said. "We're definitely not worried about it."
"That's part of being a team," said Pace. "Sometimes guys go down and the next man has to pick up the slack."