Since he first injured his right knee on Nov. 21, Jets right tackle Damien Woody has been trying to play through the pain and be there for his teammates. His work on the right side of the offensive line with guard Brandon Moore was at the ehart of the jets' success last season in the run to the AFC championship game with the NFL's top rushing game.
But it finally caught up to Woody (pictured, No. 67) Sunday at new meadowlands Stadium when he had to come out of the game around the second offensive series and was unable to return. Wayne Hunter, who has been getting plenty of reps in practice because Woody was limited, replaced him. But it was a tough day for the Jets' running game, which generated just 87 rushing yards, including 20 on two scrambles by quarterback Mark Sanchez.
"Until I consult the doctors and have further tests, I don't know what it is," Woody said after the Jets' 10-6 loss to Miami. "I just got treatment when I left the game. I'm getting an MRI [Monday] to see if anything else is going on in there. I'll have more answers then."
Even in hindsight, Woody said he didn't regret trying to play through his injury instead of resting it for a couple weeks. It's difficult to say how much his loss affected the Jets' running game, but it went nowhere against the Dolphins. It wasn't helped by the fact quarterback Mark Sanchez played poorly at the outset of the game.
From his sideline vantage point, Woody said, "Everybody talks about Mark, but we've just got to do a better job all the way around. We talked all week about first and second down, really putting ourselves in great position on third down because Miami is very good in third-and-long. We didn't do that whether it was penalties or ineffectiveness. We put ourselves in a bind time and time again."
If Woody is going to be lost for an extended period, it couldn't come at a worse time with the next two games coming on the road at Pittsburgh and Chicago, both of which play excellent defense against the run.
"When you lose him, you lose his leadership," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said of Woody. "That's always tough."
Focusing on the rough road ahead, Tomlinson added, "It doesn't get easier, but for us, we're going to see what we're made of. These tough defenses, we've got to get tougher. We've got to get a mindset where we don't care how tough you are. We have to play tougher. That has to be our mindset."
With or without Woody paving the way.