FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Matt Forte has been waiting for the swelling in his surgically repaired right knee to subside.
Instead, it has only gotten worse.
The 31-year-old running back will sit out the New York Jets‘ game at Tampa Bay on Sunday because of his ailing knee. He didn’t practice all week after having a season-high 77 yards rushing against Buffalo last Thursday night.
"I’ve been playing with swelling in my knee for a while," Forte said Friday. "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 and it just got worse on me."
Forte had just 7 yards on four carries in New York’s 25-20 loss to Atlanta on Oct. 29. After the game, he questioned offensive co-ordinator John Morton for straying from the run-heavy plan.
Four days later, Forte had his best game of the season, running for two scores while the Jets used their ground game to beat the Bills. But, the soreness and swelling was still there on Monday when the team reported back for duty, and Forte was unable to get in any practice time.
He insisted that his increased workload during a short work week, carrying the ball a season-high 14 times, didn’t play a role in his knee worsening.
"No," Forte said. "I told you it was already swollen before that, so it had nothing to do with that."
Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire will handle the running duties against the Buccaneers, who have the 22nd-ranked run defence.
Forte, who turns 32 next month, had arthroscopic surgery on the knee at the end of last season to repair a torn meniscus. He is second on the team with 241 yards rushing on 57 attempts, but ranks fourth with 29 receptions.
The Jets have a bye after Sunday, so he’ll be able to get extra rest before New York plays again on Nov. 26 against Carolina.
"I’m pretty confident," Forte said of being ready for the next game. "I’m looking forward to that. I can’t guarantee that I’ll be doing that, but that’s what I want to happen. It’s just a matter of getting the swelling out of the knee where I can be effective on the field."
The Jets could also be short-handed at wide receiver on Sunday. Jeremy Kerley is suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancers, and rookie ArDarius Stewart tweaked his groin at practice Thursday. He was limited on Friday and is listed as questionable for the game.
Kerley is New York’s primary punt returner, while Stewart has been handling kickoff returns. With Stewart banged up, the Jets have just three healthy wide receivers with Jermaine Kearse, Robby Anderson and rookie Chad Hansen. They could opt to promote at least one of the receivers they have on the practice squad with some return experience: JoJo Natson, Jalin Marshall or Damore’ea Stringfellow.
"It’s one of our options that we’re going to talk about," coach Todd Bowles said.
Cornerback Morris Claiborne is questionable to play after he was limited for the second straight day. He hadn’t practiced before Thursday since injuring a foot against Atlanta. Claiborne missed the game against Buffalo, but could be back in the lineup Sunday.
"He was limited," Bowles said, "but he did a lot more."
In other injuries: defensive lineman Ed Stinson is out with a neck injury, while defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (shoulder, foot), right guard Brian Winters (abdomen) and backup centre Jonotthan Harrison (hand) are questionable.
NOTES: Bowles on whether he needs to warn his players about being overconfident while facing the 2-6 Buccaneers: "We’re 4-5. We have nothing to be overconfident about." … P Lachlan Edwards is tied with Baltimore’s Sam Koch for second in the NFL with 19 punts inside opponents’ 20-yard line, three behind San Francisco’s Bradley Pinion. "All year, he consistently keeps improving every week," special teams co-ordinator Brant Boyer said of Edwards, a seventh-round pick last year. "I think he’s slowly becoming the guy that he should and I think you’re going to see him keep elevating his game every year that he keeps playing."