New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith will miss 6-10 weeks after his teammate, linebacker IK Enemkpali, broke his jaw.
Gang Green can just about forget about that solid start to the season they were hoping for.
Despite the numerous amount of good news that has come out of Jets camp last week, Jets quarterback Geno Smith will miss 6-10 weeks after suffering from a broken jaw suffered after his now-ex-teammate IK Enemkpali sucker-punched him Tuesday morning in the locker room.
“There was an altercation in the locker room,” Jets head coach Todd Bowles said at an immediate press conference, via Seth Walder of the New York Daily News. “Had nothing to do with football. Something very childish. He got cold cocked, sucker punched whatever you want to call it, in the jaw.
Something very childish that sixth-graders could have talked about and it had no reason to happen. Something you don’t tolerate.”
Bowles said that he may have additional details after practice.
With Smith now out for at least the first quarter of the season, veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who the Jets signed this offseason to compete with Smith or be his backup, will take over the starting spot. How he performs in the first four weeks of the season could determine how long Smith is out.
The 24-year-old Enemkpali was released just after the incident Tuesday morning. He was drafted by the Jets in the sixth-round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Louisiana Tech. In six games with the Jets last year he recorded two tackles an assist and two pass deflections. He was competing for a roster spot this year, working as a backup linebacker.
Enemkpali is no stranger to physical violence off of the field. According to his NFL.com draft scouting report, he was arrested following an off-campus incident and was subsequently charged with disturbing the peace and battery of a police officer. He was initially suspended by Louisiana Tech but was reinstated before the season began.
The Jets open their preseason at Ford Field against the Detroit Lions on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, CBS).
Update, 3:50 PM ET
Craig Carton of WFAN made a special guest-spot appearance on Mike’s On – Mike Francesa’s afternoon drive – with Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts today (as they’re currently filling in for the Sports Pope).
Carton revealed that, according to sources he spoke with while he and his partner Boomer Esiason were at Jets camp last week, Geno owed IK Enemkpali money. The discussed amount over the live airwaves was $1K.
Furthermore, Esiason tweeted this after the incident was announced:
Bottom line if you owe somebody money pay your debt. Don’t be surprised if you get punched in the face if you don’t.
— Boomer Esiason (@7BOOMERESIASON) August 11, 2015
Whether or not this was the reason for the sucker punch remains to be seen.
Update, 7 PM ET
Adam Schefter of ESPN had this to say regarding why there was a dispute between the two Jets:
At the heart of the dispute between former Jets LB IK Enemkpali and quarterback Geno Smith is $600 that Enemkpali believed Smith owed him, per league sources. Enemkpali purchased a plane ticket for Smith to attend his July 11 football camp at Pfugerville High School in Pfugerville, Texas. However, days before the camp, a person close to Smith was killed in a motorcycle accident in Miami and Smith did not attend Enemkpali’s camp, per sources. After Smith did not attend, Enemkpali demanded that the Jets’ quarterback refund him the $600 he allegedly used to purchase a plane ticket. Smith told Enemkpali he would reimburse him the money, but he did not. Enkempali [sic] confronted Smith today about the money and the confrontation ended in a punch and broken jaw.
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It's not that Geno Smith didn't pay back IK Enemkpali. He just didn't do it yet. He intended to pay him back, per sources. Just not in time.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 11, 2015