The Jets and guard Kelechi Osemele are engaged in a standoff over whether the player needs shoulder surgery.
Osemele has not played or practiced since the Sept. 22 game with the Patriots. Osemele said Friday that he needs to have season-ending surgery on his shoulder for a torn labrum, but the team will not authorize it.
The Jets feel Osemele does not require surgery immediately. Two doctors determined Osemele had the injury before this season and can play through it and possibly have surgery in the offseason, according to a source.
Osemele said he first injured the shoulder on Aug. 5 during a training camp practice and then re-injured it while making a tackle after an interception against the Patriots.
“It’s been killing me,” Osemele said Friday. “I’m just trying to get this done. I’ve done everything I can. I’ve been at work every day, waking up at 5 in the morning, doing all the rehab and the treatments and stuff like that. I’m like the last dude out of here at night. I’m doing everything I can. I’m working with my agent. We’re communicating with the team. There’s just not communication between the team and my doctor and my agent. It’s just been butting heads for whatever reason. Hopefully, it gets resolved soon.”
A source said the Jets informed Osemele later Friday that he was required to practice Saturday or he would face either a fine or suspension for conduct detrimental to the team.
The timing of Osemele’s request for surgery raised some eyebrows inside the Jets. The coaches were planning on benching him in favor of Alex Lewis after the Patriots game. Though no one is denying he has an injury, the severity is what is disputed. Osemele may have decided to have the surgery when he felt he was losing his starting job.
There was no mention of Osemele having a shoulder injury during training camp. He did miss time with a pectoral injury. He then appeared on the injury report two days before the Patriots game with a knee injury. The Jets had a bye week after the New England game. Osemele said that is when he made the Jets aware of his need to have surgery.
He was examined by the Jets doctors and then sought a second opinion from a doctor in California. Here is where things get murky. Osemele said that both doctors told him he needs surgery. A source said the doctors did not say he needs surgery immediately and can play through the injury.
After the bye week, Osemele did not practice before the Eagles game and was listed as having shoulder and knee injuries. Last week, he was also listed as having an illness.
Osemele said he has talked with Jets general manager Joe Douglas several times in recent weeks. He is hopeful that the Jets will sign the workers’ compensation forms needed to pay for the surgery.
“It’s been about three weeks, so I’m just waiting for them to do that because they wouldn’t send my second opinion to my doctor, so that’s why it’s been taking so long. I’ve needed it since the bye week,” Osemele said. “We’ve known since then, so just waiting on that.”
Osemele said he can’t lock his arm out and does not have the strength to block anyone.
“There’s no avoiding [surgery],” he said.
The Jets acquired Osemele, 30, in a trade with the Raiders in March. They traded their fifth-round pick to Oakland for Osemele and a sixth-round pick. He started the first three games this year and struggled mightily along with most of the Jets offensive line.