FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Bilal Powell might have played the last snap of his football career.
The New York Jets running back needs surgery to repair a bulging disk in his neck, and coach Todd Bowles says it’s potentially a career-ending injury.
“It’s possible,” Bowles said Wednesday. “We’ll see how the surgery goes.”
Powell was placed on injured reserve after hurting his neck during a 2-yard run late in the second quarter of New York’s 37-17 loss to Minnesota. He remained down for a few moments as trainers checked on him before getting up and walking to the sideline and then to the locker room.
Bowles says the injury is similar to the one that sidelined wide receiver Quincy Enunwa for all of last season, but adds that “this may be worse.”
The playing future for Powell, the franchise’s 10th-leading rusher, was already uncertain before the grim news. He turns 30 on Saturday and is scheduled to be a free agent after this season.
“Bilal’s one of the hardest workers on this team,” Bowles said. “It’s a big blow from that standpoint, but you worry more about the person and healing more than you do the football player. So, that’s where we’re at.”
Powell has 3,446 yards rushing in eight seasons with the Jets, just 1 yard behind Adrian Murrell (3,447, 1993-97) for ninth on the team’s career list.
Powell is the team’s longest-tenured player after being drafted in the fourth round out of Louisville in 2011. He has provided the Jets with a dual-threat presence out of the backfield, catching 204 passes for 1,567 yards and five touchdowns. Powell had 11 receptions for 110 yards and a TD this season.
“Yeah, man, it’s a sad thing to see that just because B.P. is so respected in this locker room,” quarterback Sam Darnold said. “He’s just such a great guy to have on the team. That’s first and foremost, but him as a player, he’s amazing as well. It sucks in general to see that happen to anyone, but especially B.P., it hurts a little bit.”
The Jets could add another running back before their game Sunday at Chicago. Isaiah Crowell and rookie Trenton Cannon are the only players at the position, with De’Angelo Henderson on the practice squad. Elijah McGuire is still on injured reserve, working his way back from a foot injury suffered early in training camp.
The team also has announced it signed safety Ibraheim Campbell, filling a need at another of the Jets’ injury-plagued positions.
Campbell played in four games with Dallas this season after being claimed off waivers from Houston. The Cowboys waived him on Oct. 9.
The Jets had only Jamal Adams and Terrence Brooks as healthy players at the safety position on the active roster. Starter Marcus Maye is sidelined with a broken right thumb and could miss a few more weeks, but was a limited participant at practice Wednesday — a sign of improvement. Doug Middleton, Maye’s replacement, tore a pectoral muscle against the Vikings and was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.
Rontez Miles remains on the physically unable to perform list since tearing the meniscus in one of his knees during the offseason. He was on the field during practice, but Bowles said Miles won’t be activated this week.
Campbell was a fourth-round pick of Cleveland in 2015 out of Northwestern and played in 37 games, including 11 starts for the Browns. He was released with an injury settlement in 2017 and signed with Houston.
The 26-year-old Campbell has 82 total tackles and one pass defensed in his NFL career.