Jets' Fitzpatrick returns to team, expects to play Sunday
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Ryan Fitzpatrick expects to be back under center in the New York Jets' next game.
The quarterback remained optimistic Wednesday despite not practicing and he acknowledged that his thumb is in a bit more pain after having surgery to repair a torn ligament on his left - non-throwing - hand last Friday.
''The surgery went well and there was nothing unexpected in there,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''Things are on schedule right now.''
Fitzpatrick was injured during a game at Oakland on Nov. 1 when he was hit on a play by the Raiders' Charles Woodson. He left that game, but played through the injury the next two games with his thumb in a molded brace and his hand covered by a glove.
He opted to have the surgery the day after the Jets' 22-17 loss to Buffalo rather than wait until the end of the season to avoid what could have been a more complicated procedure.
''It's more painful now than it was before the surgery,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''Part of that is they cut my hand open.''
Fitzpatrick is uncertain how long the stitches will remain in his hand, but the top priority for him and team doctors is to keep the area clean. He'll continue to wear the brace and protective glove during practice and in games.
''Any time they open you up, infection is a big concern, so just keeping everything clean, that is one of the main things we are kind of keeping an eye on,'' he said.
Fitzpatrick acknowledged that the pain won't go away anytime soon since the ligament still needs to heal, as well as the wound. Doctors have told him it will take several weeks to heal.
''It's going to take a lot of time,'' he said. ''It's not really a quick fix overnight.''
Fitzpatrick threw some passes during individual drills in what he called ''a positive day,'' but didn't participate in team drills. He expects he'll do ''a lot more'' at practice Thursday.
''It was just part of the plan,'' he said, ''just to give me one more day, post-surgery.''
Coach Todd Bowles would not yet declare Fitzpatrick the starter at Houston, saying he wants to see how the quarterback progresses during the week. Fitzpatrick didn't take snaps or practice handoffs Wednesday, which Bowles acknowledged was what was expected.
''He'll do more (Thursday),'' Bowles said. ''He threw a little bit and then he rested.''
NOTES: In addition to Fitzpatrick, C Nick Mangold (neck, hand), DT Sheldon Richardson (hamstring), CB Dee Milliner (illness) and S Dion Bailey (ankle) didn't practice. The hand injury is new for Mangold. Richardson said he's ''optimistic'' about playing, but Bowles said he'll likely be a game-time decision. ... CB Darrelle Revis (hip) was limited, as were CB Antonio Cromartie (quadriceps), WR Brandon Marshall (toe, ankle) and S Calvin Pryor (ankle). Bowles didn't appear concerned about Revis' injury, saying it's ''not very'' serious.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL