Source: Erik Ainge being treated
The team put him on the reserved/non-injured list last week. This wouldn't be the first time Ainge has sought help for substance abuse. He missed several weeks during OTAs in April 2009. That came during a time when coach Rex Ryan said Ainge would be competing with Brett Ratliff and Kellen Clemens for the roster spot vacated by Brett Favre.[+] EnlargeLuc Leclerc/US PresswireErik Ainge joined the Jets in 2008 out of the University of Tennessee.
Ainge missed those critical weeks because he was seeking treatment for a problem with prescription drugs, multiple sources said.
One of Ainge's teammates said that prescription drugs are a particularly hard problem for an NFL player to recover from, given the nature of injuries in the league. There is no confirmation that Ainge is currently facing a problem with prescription drugs.
On Monday, Ainge tweeted that he wished he could be with his Jets teammates in Cortland. It was the first time he'd used the social medium in two weeks.
"I am taking some personal time to address a non-football related illness," he wrote. "Thank you for all the love, thoughts, and concerns. I love you all."
After being drafted out of Tennessee in 2008, Ainge had a procedure on his right pinkie and wore a brace. After that healed, Ainge was placed on injured reserve because of his foot. He later violated the NFL's policy on banned substances and served a four-game suspension.
Ryan was asked Wednesday if the door would be open for Ainge to return when he finishes dealing with these issues, and the coach said he didn't want to comment due to the personal nature of the situation.
The Jets have quarterbacks Mark Sanchez, Mark Brunell, Clemens and Kevin O'Connell taking reps during training camp. The competition for roster spots will be more intense given the number of wide receivers and the potential for the Jets to carry two fullbacks into the regular season.
"They had mentioned to us in the spring that they wanted to go into the season with only three quarterbacks," Clemens said. "I guess we all kind of figured that when there was just four of us without Brunell that one of us wouldn't be here anyway."
Clemens said there was a possibility that the season starts with Sanchez, Brunell and himself as the rotation, and that he would be fine with that.
"Since Brunell is here I'm not just banging down the door to get out," Clemens said.
Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini was used in this report.
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