Dimitri Patterson ended his puzzling absence after 48 hours, but his future with the New York Jets is now uncertain.
The Jets "indefinitely" suspended the veteran cornerback Monday after he left the team Friday without contacting the organization. General manager John Idzik said Patterson spoke to him and coach Rex Ryan on Sunday night, but neither Idzik nor Ryan would discuss the reason for the absence.
"Obviously, Dimitri felt he acted appropriately, but until we discussed it last night, you don't understand," Idzik said. "And, to be honest, we're still trying to understand all that went behind it. So, I would rather not characterize it."
Idzik added that the "indefinite" suspension will be "brief," but the 31-year-old Patterson will face more discipline once the team has gathered all the facts. Patterson wasn't on the practice field Monday.
"It'll give us a little time to gather more information around what led to his behaviour," Idzik said. "I think that way, we'll feel like we'll make a very well-informed decision as to what discipline will be forthcoming — and there will be discipline involved."
Idzik wouldn't speculate whether that could result in further suspension, fines or Patterson being released. Ryan said "it's safe to say" he has never been involved in a situation in which a player didn't show up for a game.
"I don't want to say anything one way or the other about the situation because it's a serious situation," Ryan said after practice. "How I feel, whatever, I'll just leave as private thoughts right now."
Patterson was with the team last Thursday night at a walkthrough practice at Hofstra University. Idzik said he was also at meetings, a walkthrough and the pregame meal Friday, but didn't show for the preseason game against the Giants at MetLife Stadium.
Patterson, who has been dealing with ankle, calf and quadriceps injuries all summer, was expected to play against the Giants, but it was uncertain how much. He gave the Jets no warning he would leave the team, and no one in the organization knew if Patterson was even OK physically until his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, was able to confirm that Saturday.
Patterson gone missing
Idzik announced that Patterson had gone missing during a conference call Sunday. A few hours later, Patterson, through Rosenhaus, told Idzik he would return to the facility that night to speak to them.
"The conversations we had with Dimitri will remain private," Idzik said. "He presented what led up to that, and basically last night was a listening session for Rex and for me, to understand what went into it. Now that the lines of communication are open, there will be two-way discourse now, which I think will be healthy."
In a text message to ESPN's Josina Anderson, Patterson said he was OK, but took issue with reports that said he was AWOL, calling them "comical."
When told of Patterson's comments, Idzik said: "I'll just say, he left and we didn't hear from him until we saw him yesterday evening."
Patterson's teammates said they had no idea he was going to not show up for the game, and they were surprised to hear he was nowhere to be found.
"Dimitri's a great person and I never expected him not to show for the game," cornerback Darrin Walls said. "I've never known him to miss anything. He's always on time and he's always present for everything else, so to not see him was kind of a shock."
Quarterback Michael Vick became good friends with Patterson while the two played together for two years in Philadelphia. Vick was sad to hear about the situation.
"Dimitri's a great player and a guy who has put in a lot of hard work throughout the course of his career, and he has an opportunity to do some great things with this team," Vick said. "I don't know what happened. I just hope it works out for him."
Patterson was expected to start for the Jets as long as he was healthy. New York signed him to a one-year, $3 million deal in April, but now there are questions about his commitment to the team.
"That's what we're going to try to decipher," Idzik said. "That's why you really want to get to the bottom of it."
The Jets are in troubling shape at cornerback with Patterson's situation the latest in a dismal summer for the team at that spot. Top cornerback Dee Milliner is still recovering from a high ankle sprain and might not be ready for the regular-season opener. Third-round pick Dexter McDougle is out for the year with a torn knee ligament, and safety-turned-cornerback Antonio Allen is dealing with a concussion.
But before Patterson is reinstated, the Jets are gathering information to find out whether he can be counted on.
"I think you have to let that kind of unfold," Idzik said. "We're still going through that. Trust is earned over time."