Schott: Fitz Able To Play Through Pain As Jets Enter Favorable Stretch

(Neil Miller / Sportsday Wire)

The Jets have done very well with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback this season, and despite a left thumb injury, he will be in there Sunday when they take on the Jaguars.

Fitzpatrick suffered a torn ligament in his left thumb in last Sunday’s loss to the Raiders in Oakland.

He immediately had to leave the game, forcing Geno Smith to take over at quarterback, with predictably dismal results. The prospect of Smith or Bryce Petty taking over as the starting QB for this Sunday against Jacksonville is something the Jets do not have to think about now.

The Jets jumped out to a 4-1 start, mainly due to the way Fitzpatrick orchestrated the offense, taking advantage of having targets like Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall, and the emergence of Chris Ivory as an elite running back in the league.

The Jets then faced a very tough back-to-back, with New England and Oakland on the road, two places that have given them trouble over the years. They now have a rather easy four-game stretch, with the Jaguars and Bills at home, followed by facing Tennessee on the road and hosting Miami.

Fitzpatrick said of how confident he is that he will be able to play through it the rest of the year, “I’m extremely confident. I don’t want to put the team in a position where I’m going to go out and hurt the team and turn the ball over or try to be a hero because something is compromised. I want to go out there and help the team. If I can do that without putting me or the team in a compromising position then I will and I think I’m going to be able to do that.”

On if there was any fear this injury would keep him out longer than a week, he said, “Yeah, I just had no idea and (I) found out on the sideline how important those thumbs really are. I don’t know, like I said, I hadn’t done it before, there’s just a lot of uncertainty with that. I think we have a good plan in place.”

Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles said of Fitzpatrick, “He’s a tough guy; he can tolerate some pain. The way they’ve got it bandaged up, he should be O.K.”

Fitzpatrick said of his thumb injury on Wednesday, “It’s just something I’ve never dealt with before – so (I’m) just kind of getting used to it.”

On what it feels like, he said jokingly, “Well, it’s painful enough to get me out of changing diapers, that’s been the one positive.”

Fitzpatrick said of having any limitations in practice, “No limitations today (Wednesday). Really just a trial run to see how it was going to feel and what is the best way going forward in terms of using it and not using it and all that. Today was a pretty positive day in that regard.”

When asked if he normally wears a glove on his left hand, he said, “No, I usually don’t wear a glove,” and then if he’ll wear one Sunday, he said, “I’ll probably be wearing a glove.” He also said hje will be able to make handoffs with his left hand, which he normally does.

Fitzpatrick said of whether the idea came from for him to wear a glove, “There’s a group of people here, whether it’s the trainers or the doctors and everybody’s been great in terms of getting on the same page and putting me in the best position to be successful. So, just kind of a group effort.”

Fitzpatrick was teammates with Carson Palmer with the Cincinnati Bengals. Palmer sustained ligament damage to his left thumb in the fifth game of the 2009 season. He led Cincinnati to the AFC North division title and made the Pro Bowl before he had surgery.

On if he reached out to Palmer for advice about the injury, he said, “Yeah, Carson actually sent me a text before the game was even over, just saying, “Hey hit me up.” So, we talked a little bit and he went through something similar and so we were able to talk and bounce ideas off each other and all that. He’s been a decent asset.”

On what it was like to talk to Palmer about his injury, he said, “It was helpful. I think his happened in Week Four and he was able to finish out the season. Just that alone, having somebody that has done it and has gone through it and really somebody who is a good friend of mine. It was just nice to confide in him on some of that stuff.”

Fitzpatrick said of when he will have surgery, “Yeah, eventually it will happen. We have to figure out when.”

On what the time frame is for recovery from surgery, he said, “It just kind of depends. You might be able to look it up on Wikipedia or WebMD or something (joking). It just kind of depends on a lot of different factors, incision and all that stuff.”

On how he is feeling and if he’s surprised that he was able to take snaps, Fitzpatrick said, “I found out that your left thumb is not real involved in taking a snap, so that was a pleasant surprise.”

On if he realized during Wednesday’s practice that he figured out he would be able to play through the injury, Fitzpatrick said, “I was in doing some stuff the last few days, just kind of working through the best way to go forward and all that. Today was just a good day to get back on the practice field and get some work in with everybody.”


Fitzpatrick said of what his particular job and this opportunity means to him to play through the pain, “Everybody in the NFL, everybody in this locker room, everybody is playing with some sort of ding or nick. (Everybody is) playing through some stuff. It’s more painful to sit on the sideline and not be there for your teammates. That was hard for me, just feeling like I let everybody down and not being able to go out there and compete with them. Just like anybody else in this locker room, I have to go out there and do the best I can. We’re all playing through different things and just make sure that it’s not effecting my performance.”

On how critical this game is for the team’s confidence, he said, “Yeah, I think it’s huge. Two games in a row coming off of a loss. We really got beat up in all phases. We kind of want to get back on the field and show that that wasn’t us and we’re a better team than that. The time to heal is great for Sunday, but also couldn’t come soon enough in terms of getting back out there and getting that winning feeling back.”

Fitzpatrick said of opposing teams scheming to stop the run game: “I think it’s different every week. Whether it’s defensive personnel, whether it’s a scheme and how the game is going. We fell behind and had to throw a bunch this last game. There’s a lot of different things that go into it. For us to be successful as an offense, we have to be able to run the ball. We all know that in the locker room here and that’s always something we’re looking to improve on.”

On if he will communicate more this week with Chan Gailey because of the injury, Fitzpatrick said, “We always have those conversations and it’s not just on a Wednesday, Thursday,Friday. Those will happen Saturday night, too and into Sunday morning. There’s constant communication, maybe more so this week in terms of how comfortable I am with everything. Those conversations happen every week.”

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