Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has torn ligaments in left thumb

ByRich Cimini via ESPN logo
Monday, November 2, 2015

OAKLAND, Calif. - The New York Jets' quarterback position was thrown into chaos on Sunday, as starter Ryan Fitzpatrick tore ligaments in his left thumb and backup Geno Smith suffered an undisclosed injury to his left shoulder in a 34-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders at Coliseum.

The Jets fear Fitzpatrick, who will have an MRI Monday morning to determine the extent of the damage, will be lost for multiple games.

Fitzpatrick, hurt on a tackle by Charles Woodson after a 12-yard scramble, said his thumb was initially dislocated.

"Yeah, I pulled it back in, but it wouldn't stay," said Fitzpatrick, 32, also mentioning, "there was something with the tendons."

Fitzpatrick was unable to grip a football with his left hand, meaning he couldn't take snaps from center and couldn't hand off. It was a terrible break for the journeyman quarterback who ascended to the starting job in the preseason when Smith's jaw was broken in a locker room fight.

The Jets (4-3) dropped their second straight and they don't know who will start at quarterback next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The only healthy quarterback on the roster is rookie Bryce Petty, a fourth-round pick from Baylor. He has yet to play in a game. Coach Todd Bowles said the team may have to sign a player, an indication of the organization's level of concern with Fitzpatrick's injury.

"We'll see the health of Geno and the health of Ryan, and we'll go from there," Bowles said. "It's early. We'll wait until we get the tests back and we'll act accordingly."

Smith said he's "pretty confident" he can play this week, but he could miss practice time because he's banged up. He was drilled in his non-throwing shoulder by cornerback David Amerson on a long run, one he admitted he should've run out of bounds on.

Later, in the final minute, Smith took a shot to the midsection by linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong. He was shaken up and went to the sideline for two plays, forcing the injured Fitzpatrick back into action briefly -- two plays in which he took snaps out of the shotgun formation.

Smith returned to finish the game.

"He's tough, he fought it out, but he has to learn how to slide," said Bowles, referring to the Amerson hit.

Bowles said the same of Fitzpatrick, who went down awkwardly on his scramble. The coach has been critical in recent weeks of Fitzpatrick's refusal -- or inability -- to slide, avoiding contact. It finally caught up to him.

"I think it was just kind of a fluke thing," said Fitzpatrick, who broke a leg last December while playing for the Houston Texans. "I think it might have been Woodson. He kind of went for the ball and just got my thumb inside. I knew something wasn't right and unfortunately I just couldn't grip the ball. I couldn't really do anything with pressure and keep it in the right place."

Smith was poised to be the opening day starter, but he was punched by IK Enemkpali in the locker room and missed six weeks. In his season debut, he completed 27 of 42 passes for 265 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked three times and took several big hits.

"Every chance I get to step on the field is a way for me to prove my worth to whoever's watching," Smith said. "To whoever wants to evaluate it."

In addition to the quarterbacks, wide receiver Brandon Marshall suffered ankle and toe injuries. He finished the game and underwent X-rays afterward, declining to reveal the results. He said, "I'll be OK," but will have additional tests Monday.

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