- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets have suffered a blow even before they step on the field against the New England Patriots, as offensive tackle Damien Woody was placed on injured reserve Wednesday, coach Rex Ryan announced.
Woody suffered an Achilles injury, according to Ryan.
Woody had surgery Wennesday, and he faces a four- to six-month rehab and should be fully recovered by June, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The Achilles injury is to his left leg. The veteran right tackle recently underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, which sidelined him for the last three regular-season games. He returned for the Jets wild-card game against the Colts.
"It was on the last drive [of Saturday's playoff victory]," Ryan said. "I never knew the extent of it."
"It's unfortunate," he added. "He worked his tail off to get back and has a great challenge against him with [Indianapolis' Robert] Mathis and did a great job and was getting ready to play his old team."
Woody isn't the only starting offensive lineman who is hurt. Right guard Brandon Moore injured his back while lifting weights Tuesday but said he will be fine for Sunday's game against the Patriots in the AFC divisional playoffs.
"It's a non-issue," Moore said. "It'll be all right by Sunday. I'll treat the hell out of it and be ready to go."
The Jets have enough recent experience with Hunter in the starting lineup. The 6-5, 318-pound tackle started the last three regular-season games when Woody was out with the knee injury.
"[Woody] is one of the best offensive tackles out there if not the best right tackle," Hunter said. "So I think it will always mess up the chemistry a little bit, but since I've been playing against Pittsburgh and Chicago, it [could] be more. I don't think it will be that much of a change."
Hunter also came in on the final three plays for Woody against the Colts when Woody injured his Achilles.
"We are fortunate, I've always said that we've had the best backup tackle in the league in Wayne Hunter and he has played a lot of football for us," Ryan said. "We have a lot of confidence in Wayne."
Initially, Ryan wasn't sure how badly Woody was hurt at the end of the Colts game. Losing Woody before the biggest game of the year is a blow as Brian Schottenheimer's running game will miss the 12-year veteran, who helped the Jets rush for 169 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts.
The Jets could use Woody against his former team and the mammoth Vince Wilfork. Woody held Colts defensive end Mathis without a sack last week after coming back from knee surgery.
At 33, Woody now will have to rebound from Achilles surgery. The 6-3, 327-pound tackle has two years remaining on his contract and is due $3.35 million in base salary to go with $400,000 in bonuses. His total cap number is $4.26 million, but he does not have a roster bonus coming so the Jets will not have to make any potential decisions about Woody by any specific time.
With Hunter starting at right tackle against the Steelers, Bears and Bills, the Jets rushed for 100 yards or better in each of those games, including 276 yards against the Bills.
Hunter has also been used as an extra offensive lineman/jumbo tight end in Schottenheimer's offense.
"He's been doing a great job," running back Shonn Greene said. I don't think we lose much if anything at all when he's in there. He's already been playing when Damien was hurt. Either way, those are two good tackles right there."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick could tweak his defensive game plan now that the backup tackle is in for Woody. Hunter expects to see plenty of Wilfork, the Pro Bowl defensive tackle who went up against Woody quite a bit in their last meeting.
"The last game, he was over D-Wood a lot," Hunter said of Wilfork, "so I have to be ready for that. Vince is the man, stout and hard to move. He's worthy of the Pro Bowl game.
"I don't think they will change much. I'm not expecting more than what I see on film. If they do [change], so be it. I'll be up to the challenge."
Center Nick Mangold says the Jets will be fine with Hunter in there.
"Wayne has done a fantastic job of making sure he is prepared every week and it is a difficult task as a backup to stay focused and really understand what we are doing," Mangold said. "That showed when he came in and he was able to step in and play pretty well. We have all the confidence and trust in the world that he will get the job done."
Woody and multipurpose weapon Brad Smith missed practice for the second consecutive day as the Jets continued preparations Wednesday for Sunday's game.
Smith (groin) is expected to play, Ryan has said.
"If it was up to me, I'd play," Smith said. "We have to do what's best for the team. It's probably a little bit more than sore. I'd love to play. We'll have to see how the rest of the week goes.
"I haven't really tested it full out. I'm just building up to it. I was able to do some light running today, which felt pretty good. We'll see how tomorrow goes."
Smith was hurt in the first quarter, but returned in the third. It's likely that his injury will prevent him from returning kickoffs. That job probably will go to Antonio Cromartie, whose 47-yard return set up the game-winning field goal against the Colts.
Wide receiver Santonio Holmes (quadriceps) returned to practice after missing a day. Right guard Moore wasn't seen on the field during the first 30 minutes of practice; the reason hasn't been disclosed. He hasn't shown up on any recent injury reports.
Turner worked at right guard in Moore's absence.
Quarterback Mark Sanchez, who did very little throwing Tuesday, stepped up his workload, as per usual for the second practice of the week. He was throwing with more zip on his passes during the quarterback drills.
Backup wide receiver Patrick Turner didn't practice; the reason was not disclosed.
Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. ESPNNewYork's Rich Cimini and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
1dEric D. Williams