FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - New York Jets running back Matt Forte said an MRI exam in his right knee revealed a torn meniscus, but he believes he'd had it for the entire season and still hopes to play Saturday night against the Miami Dolphins.
Forte said he's hoping to avoid surgery in the offseason because he had been pain-free until last Sunday. He said it was hyperextended at the start of the game and he wound up playing only the first two series in the Jets' 23-17 overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers.
On Monday, he went for the MRI.
"It hadn't been bothering me, so what I think happened Sunday is I re-aggravated it and it swelled up on me and all that stuff," Forte told ESPN.com Wednesday. "I've been working with them in the trainer's room. The swelling is going down, so it feels a lot better."
Forte said he had an inkling the meniscus might be torn based on an MRI he took last season with the Chicago Bears. Previously, he had surgery on his left knee, which requires maintenance. The Jets monitor his practice reps, cutting back on certain days.
Asked if he will need arthroscopic surgery, the most common way to repair a meniscus tear, Forte said: "At some point, but I've been playing with it for a whole year and it hasn't been bothering me. What happens sometimes with these meniscus injuries is that it's in a place where you can function. If it doesn't bother you, yeah, you can play with it."
Forte didn't practice Wednesday. He will be a game-time decision, according to coach Todd Bowles.
The Jets signed Forte to a three-year, $12 million contract in the offseason, including a guarantee of $9 million.
They were aware of his knee issues. In fact, the signing was delayed because of questions about his physical exam. As he waited, he received a call from the New England Patriots, who wanted him to make a free-agent visit.
Forte, 31, one of the most durable backs in recent memory, leads the Jets with 792 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He got hot in October, but he has slowed down in the three games since the bye week - 60 yards on 25 carries, a 2.4 average.
On Sunday, he was replaced by Bilal Powell, who enjoyed a career day. He rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime.
Bowles said Powell, a non-factor in the running game for most of the season, will get more chances over the final three games.