HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- A.J. Schable was on his side and unable to move after taking a big hit to his head. He heard the crowd grow quiet as Jets trainers surrounded him and his teammates prayed.
"I was thinking, 'Oh, man, I'm done playing,"' the tight end recalled Monday after his first full practice since the scary incident on Thursday night. "I was just thinking of the worst."
Schable briefly lost feeling on the left side of his body when he and Cleveland offensive lineman Cliff Louis slammed into each other on a kickoff return with 12 minutes left in New York's 24-20 preseason victory.
"When I was laying there on the field, that's the most scared I've ever been," Schable said. "Laying there for about a minute, I couldn't feel my left side. After the trainers came out, about 30 seconds later, I could start to get the feeling back. It's something I don't want to experience again."
The 6-foot-4, 273-pound Schable was running downfield on the kickoff and attempting to make a tackle when he hit the 6-8, 315-pound Louis with a shoulder. Louis' helmet smacked into the right side of Schable's head.
"It was the first chance I had to do any contact since December of '06, so I was just real pumped up and I was the first one down there," Schable said. "I ran into the guy and the next thing I know, I'm laying on my side and I couldn't move my left side. That's basically it. I hit him pretty hard. I had to pick the biggest guy, too."
Schable, signed as a free agent in the offseason after previous stints with Arizona and Philadelphia, remained on the field in a curled position until trainers turned him on his back. He was then gently placed on a stretcher and the entire team went onto the field as Schable was immobilized. The tight end gave a thumbs-up with his left hand as he was being wheeled off the field.
It was eerily reminiscent of the scene when Buffalo's Kevin Everett was injured while making a tackle on a kickoff in the season opener against Denver last season. Everett was initially paralyzed from the neck down, but eventually regained many motor skills, including the ability to walk without assistance.
"My mom was watching the Arizona (Cardinals) game and she saw my name go across the bottom line, that I got carried off on a stretcher, so she was freaking out," he said. "They taped it, so I'm going to have to watch it when I get a chance to, but it was kind of crazy."
Schable was taken to a hospital, where he underwent a CT scan, and was released in time to rejoin the team for its flight back to New York early that morning.
"They were pretty happy to see me," he said. "They said it scared them, too. They were just glad that I was all right."
Schable wore an immobilizing collar around his neck that night and had an MRI taken Friday morning. He was back on the field Saturday and Sunday wearing a no-contact red jersey, but was a full participant Monday.
"I feel a lot better," he said. "The neck's just a little stiff, but other than that, it feels pretty good to finally get out here."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press