FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP)Kelechi Osemele and the New York Jets are locked up in a surgery standoff.
The left guard says he needs a season-ending operation on his shoulder and is waiting for the team to authorize the procedure. The team, however, wants him on the field.
Osemele said Friday the team doctor and an independent doctor in California have both recommended the surgery for a torn labrum. But a person with direct knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press both doctors determined it is actually a pre-existing injury and cleared Osemele to play through the injury – and possibly have surgery in the offseason.
”It’s been killing me,” Osemele said. ”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.”
Osemele was later told he’s expected to practice Saturday or face a fine and/or suspension for conduct detrimental to the team, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team has not publicly commented on the situation.
”There’s no avoiding it,” Osemele said of the surgery, adding that he doesn’t have the strength in his shoulder to block.
”It’s torn,” he added. ”So until it’s fixed, I can’t really do anything.”
Osemele’s agent, Andrew Kessler, said in an email to the AP that the Jets are not handling his client’s situation correctly.
”Kelechi has a torn labrum, there is no debate about this as every doctor who has evaluated him agrees about that,” Kessler said. ”He has been advised by the second opinion doctor that the timing of the need for surgery is based on his symptoms. His symptoms currently dictate that he needs surgery. For the team to question the integrity of how he has told them he is physically feeling is disappointing, to say the least.
”It is hardly putting a priority on player safety.”
The Jets acquired the 30-year-old Osemele and a sixth-round draft pick from Oakland in March for a fifth-rounder. The two-time Pro Bowl selection said he was initially hurt on Aug. 5 during training camp and re-injured his shoulder at New England on Sept. 22.
He hasn’t played or practiced since. Alex Lewis has started at left guard in his place the last two games.
Osemele said he and general manager Joe Douglas have had several discussions over the last few weeks about his injury situation, and the offensive lineman simply requests that the team approves the surgery and signs the required forms to pay for it.
”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,” Osemele said. ”That’s why it’s been taking so long. I’ve needed it since the bye week. We’ve known since then, so just waiting on that.”
Osemele indicated he has had positive discussions with Douglas, and remained optimistic a resolution would be reached.
”He’s communicated to me that there’s no bad intentions or anything like that,” Osemele said. ”He’s communicated to me that it’s miscommunication and that it would be better. So I’m just waiting.”
Osemele was a second-round pick by Baltimore in 2012 out of Iowa State. After four seasons, including helping the Ravens win a Super Bowl as a rookie, Osemele signed a five-year, $60 million contract with Oakland in 2016 and made two Pro Bowls with the Raiders.
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