FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — New York Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers is dealing with what coach Todd Bowles calls a “serious” illness and it’s uncertain if he’ll be on the sideline for the game against Denver.
Bowles made the announcement Friday to end his news conference after the Jets’ final full practice before facing the Broncos at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
“He’s a tough guy,” Bowles said. “It’s a serious thing.”
Rodgers and the Jets’ other coordinators usually meet with reporters every Thursday. But the team said Rodgers had an appointment with doctors and would speak Friday.
However, a visibly concerned Bowles announced Rodgers was sick and wasn’t at the facility.
“On a side note: Coach Rodgers couldn’t do his interviews today because he is ill of a nature we can’t discuss right now,” Bowles said. “We’ll see going forward where he is and go from there. He will not be here today, and he was not at practice.”
Bowles, a close friend of Rodgers, wouldn’t go into details about what is ailing the 49-year-old coach. Rodgers is in his fourth season as the Jets’ defensive coordinator.
The players were told of Rodgers’ illness when the team met Friday morning.
“I want to let his family know that they are in my prayers and we will do our best to step up in his absence,” safety Doug Middleton said. “We all wish the best for him and we hope that he can make a strong recovery.”
It’s unclear who would handle the primary defensive play calls if Rodgers is unable to, though it could be Bowles and assistant head coach/linebackers coach Mike Caldwell.
“Everybody’s going to go about the game the same way, whether he’s there or if Coach Bowles takes over or whoever is taking over,” cornerback Darryl Roberts said. “I feel like everybody’s going to come out and play the same and just try to focus on executing and winning the game.”
Rodgers played linebacker and defensive end at the University of Tennessee before signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 1992. He also played for Shreveport in the Canadian Football League in 1994 before beginning his coaching career as the defensive line coach at Tennessee-Martin in 1994. He also had stints at Northeast Louisiana, Middle Tennessee State and Arkansas before getting his first NFL job with Dallas as the Cowboys’ defensive tackles coach in 2003.
Bowles and Rodgers first worked together in Dallas two years later, when Bowles was hired as the Cowboys’ secondary coach. The two coached again in Miami from 2008-11 before Bowles left the Dolphins to join Philadelphia’s staff.
When Bowles was hired by New York in 2015, he reached out to his buddy to run the Jets’ defense.
Rodgers got a thrill during the offseason and training camp by coaching his son, Kacy II, a defensive back who was signed as a free agent. The younger Rodgers was among the Jets’ final cuts last month before the regular season began, but the two cherished working together on a football field.
“I think this is the first time I’ve seen my Dad more than once or twice in a year just because of our schedules and jobs and things like that, so it’ll be special because of the fact we’ll be together,” Rodgers II told The Associated Press in June. “I really can’t tell you the last time it was, probably 10 years at least. It’s been a while. Conflicts in schedules, so we’re going to just take advantage and hang out and just enjoy it.”