First, Darrelle Revis. Now, Santonio Holmes.
A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Tuesday night that Holmes has a Lisfranc injury in his left foot, likely leaving the New York Jets' struggling offence without its top playmaker for the rest of the season.
The news came just over a week after the team lost Revis, considered by many to be the NFL's best cornerback, for what will likely be the season with a torn ligament in his left knee.
Holmes went down on the first play of the fourth quarter of the Jets' 34-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday after catching a short pass and tossing the ball as he went down, with Carlos Rogers returning the fumble 51 yards for a touchdown. He left MetLife Stadium on a golf cart, holding crutches and his foot in a boot.
X-rays were negative, but subsequent MRI exam results were sent to a foot specialist in North Carolina for further evaluation. The Jets' fears were then confirmed, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced the severity of the injury.
"Obviously, it looks doubtful for this week," coach Rex Ryan said Monday, "but further than that, I'm not sure."
Yahoo Sports first reported the nature of Holmes' injury.
The Jets said earlier Tuesday night that the team would have no further update on Holmes.
It's another big blow for New York (2-2), which is going through a rough stretch that includes losing two of their best players and coming off an embarrassing defeat to San Francisco with a home game Monday night up next against the undefeated Houston Texans.
Meanwhile, quarterback Mark Sanchez is taking a lot of criticism for his shoddy play, with many calling for Tim Tebow to see more action on offence — and possibly move into the starting role.
Either way, it appears Holmes won't be around to catch passes again this season. It wasn't immediately known if the 28-year-old wide receiver's foot is fractured, but a Lisfranc injury usually involves the tearing of the ligament that holds the first two toes in the foot together.
Recovery time depends on whether there is a dislocation or fracture, and whether surgery — including screws inserted — is needed.
Oakland wide receiver Jacoby Ford is out for the year with a similar injury, while Houston quarterback Matt Schaub and Raiders running back Darren McFadden are back after missing time last season with Lisfranc injuries.
Holmes leads the Jets with 20 catches for 272 yards and a touchdown this season. He and Sanchez had their best game together since 2010 two weeks ago at Miami, when Holmes caught nine passes for 147 yards.
He was coming off a disappointing season that included being the focus of locker room tension with Sanchez and capping it by being benched in the fourth quarter of the season finale for arguing in the huddle. Both he and Sanchez mended their relationship during the off-season, and Holmes had taken a larger leadership role with the rest of the wide receivers.
"From the moment I walked in, I believed Mark Sanchez was going to be our guy and I was going to be the guy to be beside him 100 per cent," Holmes said last week. "Three years has been a long time running together. You just kind of find that knack for each other and have a better understanding of how things can be done on both ends."
The position is particularly thin now with rookie Stephen Hill uncertain for the game against the Texans after being sidelined against the 49ers with a hamstring injury.
The only remaining healthy wide receivers on the roster are Chaz Schilens, Jeremy Kerley and Clyde Gates. The Jets waived Patrick Turner, another receiver, earlier Tuesday to make room on the roster for fullback Lex Hilliard.
Ryan did not rule out general manager Mike Tannenbaum looking into bringing in a free agent receiver to help.
"Mike and I haven't really discussed those things," Ryan said. "But whatever helps our football team, gives our football team the best chance to be successful, we'll certainly look at those possibilities."
Holmes helped lead Pittsburgh to a Super Bowl victory in 2009, but fell out of favour and was traded to New York in April 2010 for a fifth-round draft pick. He played a key role in the Jets' run to their second straight AFC championship game two seasons ago. New York re-signed him to a five-year, $45 million contract in 2011, and despite his troubles last season, the Jets kept him on the roster — meaning the receiver is guaranteed $15.25 million over this and next season.