Since the beginning of preseason, Jets head coach Rex Ryan has talked about third-year running back Shonn Greene stepping up to carry the bulk of the carries in the Jets' “Ground & Pound” offense. That plan may have hit a road bump as Greene was ruled out of last Sunday’s preseason game against Cincinnati with a staph infection.
Ryan said the infection in his running back’s foot happened earlier last week, perhaps a result of a procedure to drain fluid from a swollen foot he suffered. Greene had been limping around the team’s facility for the past few days, but he finally looks ready to hit the field again.
“It was actually a few days before my last practice. I was just having some pain and stuff. I found out [it was] a soft corn in between the toe, so they had to go in there and get that out,” Greene said. “It was nothing with the skin, it was just in-between the toe. There are stories flying here and there, but it wasn’t anything as bad as everybody made it seem.”
It was precautionary to sit out Greene for the preseason game, but it was also a decision to not expose his staph infection to the rest of the locker room.
Staph infections can threaten not just a player’s season, but also a career. This past July, former Browns center LeCharles Bentley sued Cleveland over a staph infection he contracted in 2006. As part of the suit, Bentley claims he contracted the virus at the team’s medical facility and is one of six Browns players over the past handful of seasons to have a staph infection.
Bentley never again played in the NFL after the infection, which led the Jets to take great precaution around Greene. Ryan wasn’t even sure if his running back was in the team facility late last week and Greene just returned to the team on Tuesday.
“Staph infections are contagious until the infection has resolved. Direct contact with an infected sore or wound, or with personal-care items such as razors, bandages are common routes of transmission,” said Dr. Jason Boulware, D.O., an emergency medical physician at Mt. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx. “There have been several case reports of staph infections spreading through locker rooms at the high school, college and professional levels. Athletes have lost limbs and life to this disease. If untreated, staphylococcal infections can spread causing pneumonia, infection within the blood stream and even infection of the heart valves.”
Without Greene, LaDainian Tomlinsongot the start and second-year running back Joe McKnight and rookie Bilal Powell had more carries against the Bengals than the original game plan suggested. The ground game struggled, with the trio of Tomlinson, McKnight and Powell combining for just 74 rushing yards and less than three yards a carry.
Watching at home, it was frustrating for Greene to see his teammates struggle, even as he put a positive spin on it.
“It was pretty tough. I think we did good, for what they did,” Greene said. “Obviously, there wasn’t much game planning going on, but I think they had just the right defense every time we tried to run the ball, so it was tough sledding.”
Follow Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for live updates from Jets training camp and for coverage of Gang Green all season long.