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Mike Westhoff, a star of 2010 'Hard Knocks,' sidelined

Rex Ryan might have been the breakout star of the 2010 season of "Hard Knocks," but New York Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff was the heart and funny bone of the popular (if tragically homeless) HBO series.

A gruff old man who's run the special teams unit for the Jets since 1998, Westhoff has been forced to step away from his job after suffering a leg injury earlier this month.

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Westhoff is a bone cancer survivor who had a titanium prosthesis inserted in his leg in 2008. The Jets announced that a piece of the "contraption" in Westhoff's leg broke on May 12 while he was visiting his son. He had surgery six days later in Indiana after X-rays revealed the break. It is the 10th major operation Westhoff has had on the leg.

Westhoff is currently recuperating in New Jersey. Assistant special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica stepped into Westhoff's shoes at OTAs.

"I'm not bad ... I've been better," Westhoff told the Jets' official site on Thursday night.

Westhoff believes he'll be able to return to coaching duties by the start of training camp.

"I'm quite certain I'll be fine for that," he said. "I'm not putting a timeframe on anything. I'm just being very careful and quiet. I'll do my little rehab and get healthy again. You spend that much time incapacitated, it just wears you out."

Westhoff, 64, reiterated earlier this year that he plans to make this season his last in the NFL. After be reminded of his unique charm in this "Hard Knocks" reel, we hope he reconsiders.

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