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Kelechi Osemele and Jets at odds over shoulder injury

Jets guard Kelechi Osemele, an All-Pro with Oakland

Jets guard Kelechi Osemele, an All-Pro with Oakland in 2016, is sorely needed for depth this week. Without him, the Jets might have only six healthy offensive linemen on the active squad.   Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Kelechi Osemele said Friday that he needs shoulder surgery. The Jets don’t agree.

They have not authorized surgery for Osemele, according to a source familiar with the situation. The source said team doctors examined him and discovered he has a pre-existing condition in his shoulder and that he can continue to play through it.

Osemele, 30, sought a second opinion, which confirmed what the Jets’ doctors found, the source said. Both doctors said the eighth-year guard is cleared to play and there is no need to have surgery at this time, the source said. If it’s a major issue, he can have surgery after the season.

Osemele must return to practice Saturday or be subject to fines or a suspension by the Jets for conduct detrimental to the team, the source said. Jets officials planned to have that conversation with Osemele on Friday.

Osemele has a different version of the story. On Friday afternoon, he said he tore his labrum during training camp and has been in “pain every day.” He said both doctors recommended surgery and that he’s waiting for the Jets “to release the workers’ compensation form.”

“I’m just trying to get this done and get this behind me,” he said. “I’ve done everything I can. I’ve been at work every day, been up at 5 in the morning, doing the rehab and the treatments. I’m doing everything I can.

“There’s just not communication with the team, with my doctor and my agents. It’s just been butting heads for whatever reason. Hopefully, it gets resolved soon.”

The Jets are responsible for paying for surgery if they deem it necessary, the source said. In this case, if Osemele elects to have surgery now, the team will not cover the expenses.

“The team doctors told me that I need surgery,” Osemele said. “My second opinion told me that I need surgery. I think they want me to play through the injury. It always falls on the player’s health. If the player’s injured and requires surgery, ultimately it’s not the team’s decision whether or not he can have surgery. It’s the doctor’s opinion. Since we’ve had two doctors say that I need surgery, ultimately it’s out of their hands.”

Osemele said it’s affecting his “strength, stability. I can’t lock my arm out. I can’t stop a guy from bull-rushing.”

After being acquired from the Raiders in the spring, Osemele suffered a pectoral injury in the preseason and has had an ongoing knee issue. The shoulder issue popped up in Week 5.

The timing of the shoulder problem was curious, as it was when Adam Gase planned to make changes to the offensive line coming out of the Jets’ bye week. Osemele hadn’t performed well and was going to be replaced by Alex Lewis. That week, Osemele showed up on the injury report with a shoulder injury.

The coaches have been impressed with Lewis, so even if Osemele were fully healthy, he might not play unless the Jets need a body. They might Monday against New England, which is one of the reasons they want Osemele practicing Saturday.

Left tackle Kelvin Beachum isn’t expected to play Monday because of an ankle injury. Center Ryan Kalil hurt a shoulder in practice Thursday and was limited in practice Friday. If Kalil can’t play, Jonotthan Harrison will start at center. Brandon Shell would replace Beachum, and that would leave only Tom Compton as the backup for all five O-line spots.

The Jets acquired Osemele and a sixth-round pick from the Raiders for a fifth-round pick, hoping the former All-Pro would help bolster a line that had some holes. That didn’t happen, and either way, his time as a Jet will be limited. Osemele is signed through next year, but his $11.4 million salary is not guaranteed.

New York Sports