The NFL's top shutdown cornerback will likely be shut down for the season.
Darrelle Revis has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that will require surgery, a huge blow for the New York Jets that leaves coach Rex Ryan without his best defensive player.
A sombre Ryan stopped short of ruling Revis out for the season on Monday, saying he just learned of the MRI results. But Revis will have to wait two or three weeks before surgery, Ryan said, and the recovery from an ACL tear is usually six-to-nine months. So the chances of Revis returning this season appear extremely slim.
Ryan added that he will speak with Revis before the team decides whether he will be placed on injured reserve, a move that could happen as early as Tuesday.
"It's just disappointing," Ryan said. "This guy wants to win. As great a player as he is individually, he's a great teammate and just wants to win. That's why he was so excited about this year."
The 27-year-old Revis was injured in the third quarter of the Jets' 23-20 overtime victory at Miami on Sunday, falling awkwardly and grabbing his knee even before he hit the grass. It was a non-contact injury, and he covered his face with gloved hands in obvious pain. He was able to walk off the field, but was taken into the locker room on a golf cart.
"Thanks for all the support!" Revis wrote on his Twitter page on Monday night. "It's just part of the game, I'm already on my way to recover!"
Ryan suspected the injury was serious when he talked to Revis on the plane ride home. MRI results Monday morning confirmed the team's worst fears.
"It's something we have to overcome as a football team. ... We're going to lose that presence. I don't know what else to say about it," Ryan said. "I guess that's the horrible thing that came out of the game."
This was Revis' first game after missing a week with a concussion sustained in the season opener against Buffalo. He had missed only three games before this season, all in 2010.
"I know the way Darrelle is that this is a guy who's as competitive as it gets, and I don't think there's any doubt that he's going to come back strong from it," Ryan said.
'Just play my game'
The Jets will be without perhaps the NFL's top cornerback on a defence Ryan had considered his best since the coach came to New York. Kyle Wilson, the team's first-round draft pick in 2010, will step into Revis' starting role opposite Antonio Cromartie. Ellis Lankster will take Wilson's spot as the nickelback.
"I just feel like I'm going to go out there and I'm going to continue to do my job," Wilson said. "Go out there, make plays and have fun. Just play my game, that's all I can do."
Wilson, who has trained in the off-season with Revis the last two summers, will continue to talk to him and get tips and suggestions throughout the season.
"I always pick that guy's brain," Wilson said. "He's obviously pretty good."
While Wilson hasn't yet lived up to expectations, and the drop-off from Revis is great, the Jets still have two first-rounders starting at the position.
"Most teams have just one No. 1 corner, and some teams don't even have any," Ryan said. "We're fortunate that we have the best in the league in Darrelle, and a No. 1 corner in Cromartie. We're fortunate there. We drafted Kyle Wilson to basically be a No. 2 corner, and that's what he's going to play, that role, and I'm confident in Kyle."
Ryan insists he isn't panicking despite losing the three-time All-Pro cornerback.
"It never happens," he said. "We have enough to get it done here. ... We'll find a way to get this done."
Ryan also didn't rule out signing a free agent. The Jets released defensive lineman Marcus Dixon on Monday, and Ryan said the move was made in part so the team could pursue other players — such as bringing back linebacker Bryan Thomas. Rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill has a hamstring injury that could sideline him a week, so the Jets re-signed Patrick Turner.
"It's an onus on the whole defence," linebacker Aaron Maybin said of losing Revis. "We know that we all have to step up, and on offence and special teams. It's going to be a collective effort because when you have a guy like that go down, it really does affect the whole team."
Holding the tiebreaker
The Jets, despite their mistake-filled win at Miami, are in first place in the AFC East at 2-1, holding the tiebreaker over Buffalo. But tough home games against San Francisco and Houston are up next.
"This is a team game, and as a team, we've got to step it up," Ryan said. "I think we'll respond. ... Is it a major blow when you lose a great player like Darrelle Revis? Of course, it absolutely is. But this is a football team, and I think we showed that yesterday, too."
The injury further clouds the contract status of Revis, who reported for training camp in July despite saying he was unsure if he would because he was hoping the Jets would rework the $46 million, four-year deal he signed in 2010. He is set to earn $13.5 million during the next two years after the deal — reached after a 36-day holdout in 2010 — was front-loaded with $32.5 million in the first two years.
But after not getting a new deal this off-season, many thought Revis and the team would re-visit the matter after this season. If he doesn't have a new contract by training camp next summer, he could become a free agent after the 2013 season.
"Yeah, I want to be a Jet for life," Revis said in July. "If management don't see fit [to] that, then I have to move on."