MMA
Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer 21d

Muhammad Wilkerson says shoulder injury could be year-long issue

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- It looks like it'll be another year of injury questions for Muhammad Wilkerson.

The New York Jets' defensive end revealed Wednesday he has a Grade 1 AC joint sprain in his left shoulder, an injury he believes will have to be managed throughout the season.

"Yeah, probably, most likely, but that's football," said Wilkerson, who receives daily treatment. "That comes with the business. I have to take care of it each and every day and hope it feels good on Sunday."

The injury, which happened in the Week 2 loss at the Oakland Raiders, will limit his practice time, but Wilkerson intends to play through it. He didn't practice on Wednesday, but he expects to play Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Wilkerson underwent an MRI exam; the results were negative, according to coach Todd Bowles, who also acknowledged this could be a season-long issue. AC joint sprains range from mild (grade 1) to severe (grade 6).

Looking at the big picture, this is the second straight year Wilkerson has dealt with an injury. His surgically repaired ankle became an issue last season. He missed only one game, but he said he was hampered by soreness. It was a hugely disappointing season for Wilkerson, who finished with only 4.5 sacks.

"I'll be all right," Wilkerson said, downplaying the shoulder. "I told you, I'll be all right. I'm not frustrated."

The Jets were satisfied with Wilkerson's performance Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, but his season stats aren't jumping off the page -- nine tackles, no sacks and no quarterback hits.

This is an important year for the former Pro Bowl end. It's the second year of a five-year, $86 million contract, but there's no guarantee he'll be on the team next year. His 2018 salary ($16.75 million) doesn't become guaranteed until the third day of the '18 league year in March, meaning there's an easy escape for the Jets.

Fellow defensive lineman Leonard Williams still is battling a preseason wrist injury. He, too, is off to a slow start from a statistical perspective -- 10 tackles, no sacks, three quarterback hits. Bowles sounded more concerned about Williams than Wilkerson.

"It's going to be delicate," Bowles said of the injury. "We've got to understand when he's in a lot of pain and when he's not. It has to be managed every week all year, so it seems. It can be [limiting]."

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