- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Kris Jenkins' season is over prematurely -- again. In 2009, it lasted six games. This time, six plays.
Let the Albert Haynesworth speculation begin.
The New York Jets' nose tackle tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee Monday night and will have season-ending surgery. An MRI Tuesday morning confirmed the team's fears. Because it's the same knee that required reconstructive surgery last October, Jenkins' career could be in jeopardy.
"Obviously, that's going to be a huge blow for us," coach Rex Ryan said.
Ryan said the Jets are interested in acquiring a veteran replacement, fueling talk of a Haynesworth trade. As of early Tuesday evening, the Jets still hadn't ruled out the possibility of trading for the Washington Redskins' disgruntled defensive tackle, but the chances it will happen are doubtful, according to a league source. But there is some interest in the talented but enigmatic lineman.
When Jenkins went down last season in Week 6, general manager Mike Tannenbaum tried to trade for Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff. He ended up standing pat, which worked out nicely. Even without their massive run-stuffer in the middle, the Jets still finished No. 1 in total defense.
"We've got to find a way to overcome it, just like we did last year," Ryan said.
The Jets are down to four veteran defensive linemen: Shaun Ellis, Mike Devito, Sione Pouha and Vernon Gholston, a converted linebacker. They have Matt Kroul and Marcus Dixon on the bench. In the preseason, they lost Ropati Pitoitua (Achilles tendon) to a season-ending injury.
Depth is an issue. Because they fancy themselves as a Super Bowl-caliber team, even though it wasn't evident in the season-opening loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Jets might be tempted to make a quick-fix move. Another player who might be available is the Cleveland Browns' Shaun Rogers, who has a high salary and off-the-field issues.
This was a devastating blow for Jenkins, 31, who felt rejuvenated after several months of rehab on his knee. He dropped more than 30 pounds in the offseason, mostly on a cookie diet, and reported to camp in terrific shape. With a healthy Jenkins and the return of cornerback Darrelle Revis, a camp holdout, the Jets felt they had the makings of a historic defense.
But on their sixth defensive play, in the first quarter, Jenkins was involved in a pileup while tackling Le'Ron McClain. He left the game and didn't return. After the game, the Jets anticipated the possibility of a season-ending injury, with one source telling ESPNNewYork.com there was a 50-50 chance it would end his season.
The previous injury to that knee also involved the ACL. It was repaired last October with a graft, using a tendon from his hamstring. During the latter stages of his rehab, Jenkins admitted he had fleeting thoughts of retirement. He decided to play after discussing it with his family, acknowledging that he probably wouldn't be able to handle another rehab.
It's also possible the Jets may not want him back at his current salary. He's due a $1 million roster bonus, plus a $3.75 million salary in 2011, and it's unlikely they will want to pay that much to a player who will have missed 25 of his past 32 games.
It's too bad because, at his best, Jenkins was a dominant player.
"He's a big, powerful man that's athletic," Ryan said. "There aren't too many people walking the face of the earth that are like that."
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com.
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