Following the NFL suspension of Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, head coach Todd Bowles said rookie wideouts ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen will get more action. But he also indicated the team might promote a receiver from the practice squad or sign a free agent over the next few days.
“I’m comfortable with those guys,” Bowles said of the rookie duo. “It just depends on the game plan of what we’re trying to do, but they’ll definitely get more time.”
Against the Bills last Thursday, Hansen played 48% of offensive snaps while Stewart checked in for 27% of the plays after Kerley hurt his foot in the first quarter and did return. The 5’9”, 180-pounder has tallied 22 catches for 217 yards and a touchdown this season and also has served as the team’s primary punt returner, a role rookie running back Eli McGuire took over in Week 9.
“It’s too early right now,” Bowles said when asked if McGuire will return punts against the Buccaneers. “We have to work some gymnastics before we start to practice on Wednesday and Thursday, and see where that goes.”
Even though this weekend marks somewhat of a homecoming for Jets quarterback Josh McCown, who played in Tampa Bay in 2014, the 15th-year vet said it’s just another business trip.
“I’ve kind of had some practice at it, so it’ll just be another game,” McCown said of facing off against a former team. “I’m looking forward to competing against them. I know some of those guys and I appreciate those guys, that friendship and the kind of men that they are, especially Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David and some of those guys that I was there with. But when we snap that ball, it will be fun to compete against them. It’s all business after that. We have a plan for our team and what we’re trying to get accomplished, and that’s what we’re focused on.”
Conversely, former Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will start for the Bucs as Jameis Winston continues to battle a shoulder injury. Despite the quarterback shakeup, it’s business as usual for the Green & White.
“Fitz was good when he was here,” Bowles said. “We’re going down to play the Buccaneers, not Fitzpatrick, so we’re going to prepare like it’s a normal week and go down and try to get a win.”
While Fitzpatrick, who played with the Jets from 2015-16, might be familiar with the defense and vice versa, Bowles said the familiarity won’t give either side a leg up Sunday.
“You’re more so playing the scheme than you are the player,” he said. “He’s familiar with us as well as we’re familiar with him, but he’s got 52 guys behind him and we’re a different team. We’ve tweaked some things since he’s been gone, so it’s a little different for both parties.”
Entering Week 9, part of the Jets’ game plan was to limit Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor on the ground. Not only did the Jets hold Taylor to 35 yards rushing, but they racked up a season-high seven sacks. After digesting the film, defensive lineman Leonard Williams, who split a sack with DL Steve McLendon Thursday, said the unit was effective because they worked together.
“Guys were getting sacks because if they had a clean rush on the left side, the guys on the right side were really pushing the pocket and not allowing the quarterback to step up,” Williams said. “We all could really thank each other for the sacks we got because we helped each other. Although one guy stands out for the sack, it was an all-around effort from the guys up front, closing the pocket, not allowing rushing lanes and step up in the pocket. It was an all-out effort from everybody up front.”