The veteran cornerback was set to rejoin the New York Jets on Sunday night after not showing up for the team’s game against the Giants on Friday night and having no direct communication with anyone in the organization since.
Agent Drew Rosenhaus confirmed in an email to The Associated Press that Patterson planned to return to the Jets’ training facility in Florham Park, New Jersey. It was still unclear why Patterson left the team for about 48 hours, a situation that general manager John Idzik called ”highly unusual.”
Idzik announced during a conference call Sunday that he learned through Rosenhaus on Saturday that Patterson was OK physically and it is not believed to be a legal issue. But at that time, neither Idzik nor coach Rex Ryan had messages left for Patterson returned by him directly.
”I’d like to talk to him,” Idzik said, ”so we could figure out what’s behind it.”
The 31-year-old Patterson was with the team Thursday night at a walkthrough practice at Hofstra University. Idzik said he was also present for meetings, a walkthrough and the pregame meal Friday, but didn’t show for the game at MetLife Stadium the following night.
”Obviously, as the game went on, we still had major concerns for his health and where he was, but were unable to locate him,” Ryan said.
Ryan was asked about Patterson after the game, but the coach didn’t let on that there was anything wrong, saying that the Jets would see if he could play in the preseason finale at Philadelphia on Thursday.
”Quite honestly, at that point, I had no idea where he was, what his situation was and was really uncomfortable to go into details about it,” Ryan said.
Patterson, who has been dealing with ankle, calf and quadriceps injuries all summer, was expected to play against the Giants but it was uncertain how much.
Both Idzik and Ryan said they had no indication that Patterson was unhappy, but thought he might have been frustrated with his injuries – although he was working his way back onto the field.
”There really wasn’t any warning that we had of something like this,” Idzik said. ”There was nothing to indicate this kind of behavior.”
Patterson was expected to start for the Jets as long as he was healthy. New York signed him to a one-year, $3 million deal in April.
”Selfishly, we want Dimitri on this football team and I think we made that clear when we signed him that we had big plans for him,” Ryan said. ”Obviously, we’d like to see him out here, so I’m a little shocked he wasn’t here. Still feel that way, but I’m not real comfortable talking about it until we talk to Dimitri and find out what’s going on.”
Idzik first learned of Patterson’s absence shortly before the game, and said his first order of business was to ”ensure his safety and well-being.” Idzik notified Patterson through his agent that his absence was ”unexcused” and said it would be handled accordingly.
Idzik added that he would rather not speculate on anything, including possible discipline, until the team had the chance to speak to Patterson directly.
”Needless to say, this situation was not expected and is highly unusual,” Idzik said.
The players had a day off Saturday, but returned to the facility Sunday – and Patterson was expected to join his teammates.
Patterson’s situation is the latest in what has been a brutal summer for the Jets’ cornerbacks. Top cornerback Dee Milliner is recovering from a high ankle sprain, and it’s uncertain whether he’ll be ready in time for the regular-season opener. Third-round draft pick Dexter McDougle was lost for the season during training camp after tearing a knee ligament. A few other backup cornerbacks have also dealt with injuries throughout the summer.
The team is so thin at the position, safety Antonio Allen has started the past two preseason games at cornerback. But Allen is going through the NFL’s concussion protocol after injuring his head against the Giants.
”We hope that with Dimitri everything works out and he’s with us, but we’re going to be full steam ahead,” Ryan said. ”That’s the way we’ll handle our business.”
NOTES: Ryan announced that QB Michael Vick will start at Philadelphia against his former team Thursday night, ”but don’t expect him to play long.” Geno Smith and the rest of the team’s starters are expected to sit against the Eagles. … Smith, announced as the Week 1 starter by Ryan on Friday, said he has always been confident, but ”I caught myself second-guessing myself last year for a lot of reasons.” Smith, who struggled through an up-and-down rookie year, said he always knew he could play, but had to ”fight through a bunch of different things, and I had to learn as well.” … LBs Troy Davis (quad) and Ikemefuna Enemkpali (foot) didn’t practice Sunday, and neither did WR Stephen Hill (illness).