JETS CHALK TALK: Vilma still secretive on injury

Tom Rock

Tom Rock Tom Rock

Rock covers the New York Giants. Previously covered college

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It was a casual, breezy, conversational question to open

the conference call with, but it got to the heart of the matter even though it

probably wasn't meant to.

"Hey Jon, how you doin'?" someone asked Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma at

the start of his first public comments since undergoing surgery on his right

knee to repair a season-ending injury last week.

The answer was as pithy as the question, but perhaps one of his most

forthcoming of the entire session: "I'm doin' good."

Vilma would not describe the type of surgery or provide any hint to a

timetable for his return to a football field. The next time he puts an NFL

helmet on his head, it's unlikely to have a Jets logo on the side. That he had

Dr. John Uribe, the team physician for the University of Miami, and not the

Jets doctors perform the surgery indicates that there is some growing distance

between the player and the franchise.

But while he's still a Jet, Vilma is insistent on following the team's

rules, and that means no injury talk.

"The surgery did go well, I can tell you that," Vilma said. "I'll be down

here [in Miami] rehabbing for a little while and I'll definitely try to make it

up to see the last couple of home games versus Cleveland and Kansas City. As

far as the surgery, it was a success. The best thing right now is that I have

time on my side, since I'm not playing right now, to get back for the 2008

season."

Vilma had been diagnosed with osteochondritis dissecans before the Jets

selected him in the first round of the 2004 draft. In OCD, blood supply to the

bone underlying the articular cartilage is interrupted, creating an area of

dead bone.

According to a person familiar with Vilma's medical situation, Vilma had an

OCD fragment that collapsed and broke loose. Because Vilma said doctors told

him that his surgery was "one and done" and would require no further procedures

during or after his career, it is believed Vilma underwent an osteochondral

allograft. No ligaments are involved in either case. A separate person familiar

with the situation confirmed that Vilma did not undergo microsurgery, a

procedure that would require about a year of rehab. Recovery time from the

allograft is generally between three and six months.

Vilma did address speculation that he will not return to play for the Jets.

While he has, in the past, sidestepped the matter, in recent interviews he has

at least acknowledged the possibility.

"I have no control over that," he said. "It's a business and if I do go to

another team I wish the Jets the best of luck and hopefully I'll be successful.

If I stay, I'm staying for the same purpose that I've been here for, and

that's to win a championship."

Asked specifically about reports that have quoted sources as saying Vilma

is unhappy with the Jets and their 3-4 defense and he is looking to get out,

Vilma called them "fictional."

Storylines

A quick look at the top stories this week

Who'll be applauding Curtis?

Running back Curtis Martin, who hasn't played since late in 2005 and

announced his retirement just prior to this season, will be honored during a

halftime ceremony at Sunday's game against the Steelers. Martin is the Jets'

all-time leading rusher and the fourth all-time leading rusher in the NFL with

14,101 yards on 3,518 carries. He is also a native of Pittsburgh and played his

college ball at Pitt, so the Steelers fans who are buying all of the tickets

from discouraged Jets season ticket holders for the game will have a chance to

applaud a native son.

Been there, done that

The Jets came back from their bye week somewhat refreshed and refocused,

but the clouds of a 1-8 record and a six-game losing streak quickly returned to

blot out their sunshine. "It's monotonous," veteran linebacker David Bowens

said of the losing. "We have to say the same thing every week on why we lost

the game. It seems like every game, the reasons have been the same for why we

lost. It would be good for once - or seven times - to come in and say we

outplayed these guys and made the plays that they didn't."

Even coin toss is loss

Safety Kerry Rhodes didn't only attend the high school football game of his

younger brother Justin, a heavily recruited offensive and defensive lineman,

in Alabama this weekend. He was asked to be at midfield for the opening coin

toss. Still, he was unable to escape the bad luck which has plagued his and the

Jets' season so far. His alma mater and his brother's team, Jess Lanier, won

the game, but Rhodes was unable to win the coin toss. "I heard my brother say,

'Damn, Kerry, you messed up the coin toss, too,' " Rhodes said with a big grin.

"Nothing's going right for me this year."

Statlines

The Jets didn't play last week, but their run defense managed to get worse.

Well, not really, but because the three teams that were ranked below them last

week each had a strong effort while the Jets were off, the Jets' run defense

slipped from 29th to a league-worst 32nd. This is the first time since 2003

that the Jets have been last in the league in run defense. A look at the teams

currently the worst against the run:

Team Yards per game Last week's ranking Week 10 rushing yards allowed

29. Raiders 144.2 30 78 vs. Bears

30. Dolphins 149.7 31 63 vs. Bills

31. Broncos 151.0 32 67 vs. Chiefs

32. Jets 152.2 29 Bye