EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins, who injured his surgically repaired left knee in the first quarter of Monday night's season opener against the Baltimore Ravens, will have an MRI exam Tuesday morning to determine the extent of the damage. There's a 50-50 chance he will be lost for the season, according to a person familiar with the injury.
Jenkins, who underwent reconstructive surgery on the same knee in October, was poised for a rebound season. He lost more than 30 pounds, reporting to camp in terrific shape. But on the Jets' sixth defensive play, he was caught in a pileup while trying to tackle Willis McGahee.
The Jets showed immediate concern, as players hovered over Jenkins as he received treatment from the Jets' doctors. He walked off the field under his own power, but he walked very slowly to the sideline. He was taken to the locker room and wasn't available after the game.
"I have no idea what the extent of the injury is, so I'm hopeful that it's not serious, but clearly it was enough for him not to return to the game," coach Rex Ryan said. "We're definitely hoping that he'll be OK."
If there's no damage to the ACL, Jenkins could miss only a few weeks. But if the ACL is torn, he'll be looking at more surgery.
Jenkins, 32, was injured last season in Week 6. His ACL surgery required a graft that involved a hamstring tendon. If this is another season-ending injury, Jenkins might consider retirement. He has admitted that he had fleeting thoughts of retirement while rehabbing his last knee injury.
If Jenkins is out for an extended period, the Jets will be thin on the defensive line. Sione Pouha and Mike Devito would be the top interior linemen, with little depth. Ryan called Pouha, who had two fumble recoveries, "one of the best unknown players in the league."
The Jets overcame Jenkins' injury last season, still managing to finish with the No. 1 overall defense. But it will be a lot harder to do it without him.
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com.