Mike Westhoff sidelined after surgery

Updated: May 24, 2012, 8:54 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff, a bone cancer survivor, underwent surgery last Friday to repair a titanium rod in his left leg and will miss the remainder of the offseason. He's expected to be back for the start of training camp.

Westhoff was missing Thursday from the Jets' OTA session, which was open to the media. After practice, the team announced his surgery.

Assistant special teams coach Ben Kotwica will handle the duties until Westhoff returns.

"In my wildest imagination, I never expected anything like this to happen," Westhoff told ESPNNewYork.com.

Westhoff, whose femur was replaced with a rod in 2008, was visiting his son recently in Indiana when he felt something wrong with his leg. He went to Indiana University Medical Center to have it checked out.

"I noticed something abnormal when I was walking, a clicking sound," he said. "(The doctors) recommended an X-ray. As I headed to the X-ray room, the leg broke -- the metal broke. Whether it was metal fatigue, I don't know. I stayed for what they called a 'hardware repair.'"

Westhoff, unable to travel, remained in hospital traction for six days before returning to New Jersey. He's optimistic about his chances of returning to the sideline for training camp, which begins July 26, but he doesn't want to push it.

"Anytime you have a major incision, it's going to take time," he said. "You have to go through the healing process. I usually start back too soon, but I have to get my strength back."

Westhoff, 64, an NFL assistant since 1985, said previously his plan is to retire after the 2012 season.

He was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1988, when he was coaching with the Miami Dolphins. He underwent at least 10 surgeries before the titanium prostheses was inserted four years ago at Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital in New York. He said last week's operation wasn't nearly as long or complex as the 2008 surgery.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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