A week after playing his best game of the season, Matt Forte is unable to play.
Forte has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers after his right knee swelled up following last week’s win over the Bills — a game in which the veteran running back scored two touchdowns.
“I’ve been playing with swelling in my knee for a while,” Forte said. “It just got to a point where it’s getting significantly worse. Obviously, coming from a Sunday game to a Thursday game, there’s less recovery time. It just got worse on me.”
The 31-year-old had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in the knee following last season. Now, it is acting up again. Forte said he is “not that concerned” and hopes that by resting this week and next week, when the Jets have a bye, he will be ready for the team’s stretch run.
“I’m determined to get back because we’re going to be coming off a bye week and we have a six-game stretch where we need all of these games,” Forte said. “I want to be out there to impact the game as best as possible so we can win.”
Forte said an MRI exam this week revealed no structural damage, so he is not concerned about needing season-ending surgery or even a surgical repair following the season. Still, it has to be a concern for the Jets that Forte’s knee is acting up. He has a lot of wear and tear on his body after 10 NFL seasons. He has 2,310 carries in his career, which is the 29th most rushing attempts in NFL history.
Because it is just swelling, Forte said he believes rest will fix the knee.
“I think it’s a timing thing,” Forte said. “Especially when you playing in the league and it’s week after week after week, you don’t have a lot of time, so to speak, for something that takes a while. You don’t know the time frame to try to get swelling out of a knee. Sometimes it takes long, sometimes it can be one day and then it’s better.”
Forte had 14 carries for 77 yards and two touchdowns along with four catches for 19 yards against the Bills. That was his heaviest workload of the season. It came four days after he criticized offensive coordinator John Morton for not running the ball more in a loss to the Falcons.
“It had nothing to do with that,” Forte said when asked if the heavy workload contributed to the swelling.
With Forte out, the Jets will turn to Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire to lead the rushing attack. Forte missed two games earlier this season with a turf toe, so this is not new for the Jets. The team held out hope this week that Forte could get healthy before the Buccaneers game, but it did not happen.
“We were looking to try to get it down [this week] and then rest during the bye week, but over the weekend it didn’t go down any,” Forte said. “It actually got worse over the weekend. Throughout this week, we tried to get it to go down more and more but it didn’t happen. Our thought is obviously I’m out for this game but then having the bye week off … hopefully by then my knee will be back to regular.”
The Jets face the Panthers on Nov. 26 at MetLife Stadium. That is when Forte hopes to be back.
“It’s not a good time to have it,” Forte said. “I felt like as a whole, as an offense, not just me that we were starting to play really well and score points and stuff. It’s not a good time, obviously, to have it but I can’t control that. The only thing I can control is what I do in the training room to try to get back.”