A.J. Schable smiled about the episode after today's training camp practice. But as the Jets tight end said in recounting his injury in the fourth quarter of Thursday night's game at Cleveland, "At first, a minute into it, I thought I was done playing. I was thinking the worst."
Schable was back making contact in practice today for the first time since he fell to the Cleveland Browns Stadium grass after a collision with 6'8", 300-pound first-year offensive lineman Cliff Louis on kickoff coverage.
And then after pratice, for the first time, he took reporters through the short but frightening interlude that led to Jets and Browns medical personnel taking him off the field in a stretcher with his head immobilized.
"That was the most scared I've ever been," Schable said. "Lying there for about a minute, I couldn't feel my left side. ... That's something I don't want to experience again."
The 6'4", 273-pounder said part of the reason for the hard hit to the side of his helmet was because the second-year man was sky-high from finally returning to action after being out of the NFL in 2007.
"I was really pumped up because it was the first time I had a chance to make contact since December of '06," he said, describing the play. "I was the first one down there, and I ran into the guy, and the next thing I know I'm lying on my side. I had to pick the biggest guy to do it."
Schable said it didn't take too long before he started feeling tingling in his side. By the time he was being wheeled off the field, he gave a thumbs-up to the crowd and said he "could feel everything."
Meanwhile, his mother, back home in the Southwest, had feelings of panic before she found out that her son was going to be all right.
"My mom was watching the Arizona game [against the Saints] when she saw my name go across the bottom line on the screen, that I got carried off on a stretcher," he said, "so she was freaking out."
So were his teammates when, after he got a CT-scan at a Cleveland-area hospital, he rejoined them wearing an immobilizing collar at Cleveland/Hopkins International Airport for the flight home.
"They were pretty happy to see me," he said. "They said it scared the crap out of them, too. They were just happy I was all right."
Back on Long Island the next morning, he got an MRI "and everything checked out," signaling that it was OK for his agent to observe, "That's not the way I want my guys on SportsCenter."
Schable's continued his rapid recovery. He returned to the sideline Saturday to work out with strength coach Sal Alosi, then was wearing a red jersey but otherwise practicing late Sunday. And today he was all the way back and counting his blessings.
"That puts things in perspective, not to take things for granted," he said. "It just felt good to get back out here and run around again."