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Thursday, September 1, 2011
Greg McElroy hurts thumb; MRI next

By Matt Ehalt
Special to ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Jets rookie quarterback Greg McElroy will have an MRI on Friday morning after injuring his thumb Thursday night in the Jets' final preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The rookie might have dislocated his finger, an injury that could sideline him for some time.

"Hopefully the recovery will be quick," McElroy said. "Hey, you know what? You've got to be optimistic about it. At this point right now, there are just not a lot of answers to be said."

While McElroy's injury was bad news for the Jets regarding one backup quarterback, the team also received some good news with their other backup quarterback, Mark Brunell. The veteran, who missed the entire preseason with a pulled calf, believes he will be ready to go for the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 11, and coach Rex Ryan echoed those sentiments.

"It feels real good," Brunell said of his calf. "I believe (I'll be ready)."

McElroy, the Jets' seventh-round choice in the 2011 draft, injured himself on a pass in the second quarter of the Jets' 24-14 loss to the Eagles. On his follow-through, McElroy's hand connected with the helmet of lineman Matt Kroul. McElroy stayed in for one more play, a handoff, before exiting the game.

The rookie said he endured a similar injury when he fractured the second metacarpal on his throwing hand at the Senior Bowl. McElroy had made 27 starts at Alabama without an injury before sustaining the injury.

An X-ray after the game did not reveal much. McElroy said he had to pop his thumb back into place.

"They weren't really sure if it was dislocated or not," McElroy said. "They didn't reveal it. They looked at it on the sideline, it feels a little lose at this point and it's just so hard to have definite evidence of a dislocation without an MRI."

He added: "It's just so frustrating. It's just one of those things, we play a sport, in this game, injuries are a part of it. You never want to get too down because it can happen to anybody."

Brunell, 40, threw the ball well in warm-ups before the game, according to Ryan. The coach said that Brunell told him Wednesday that he was ready to play in Thursday's game, but the coach would not allow it. Ryan is still confident he will have Brunell as the backup on Sept. 11.

"I feel pretty comfortable that Brunell will be in that role," Ryan said.

With McElroy and Brunell both sidelined Thursday, the Jets turned over their offense to Drew Willy, a young quarterback trying to stick with the Jets. He threw a touchdown on his first pass of the game, a 14-yard strike to Scotty McKnight, and finished 9-of-17 for 109 yards with that one score.

"Any time you can throw a touchdown on your first throw, that's a great thing," Willy said. "I enjoyed it and was just happy to get out there and have a chance."

Matt Ehalt is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.