The Jets ruled four players out for Sunday’s season finale against the Patriots. Wideouts Quincy Enunwa (ankle) and Jermaine Kearse (Achilles) in addition to cornerback Morris Claiborne (shoulder/ankle) and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis (shoulder) will all be gameday inactives in Week 17.
As a result, outside of Robby Anderson, the wide receiving corps could consist of Andre Roberts, Charone Peake and Deontay Burnett, who have combined for 146 yards and one touchdown on 14 receptions this season.
Burnett, who was added to the injury report Friday with a hamstring injury but practiced fully, leads the trio with 70 yards on five catches. The USC product totaled 142 receptions, 1,736 yards and 16 touchdowns in the two seasons Jets signal caller Sam Darnold started for the Trojans.
The team could also elect to another receiver to the active roster and they currently have two wideouts on their practice squad in J.J. Jones and DeAngelo Yancey.
Claiborne, who will miss his first game of 2018 Sunday, leads the defense with 14 pass defenses and ranks third on the team with 56 tackles. The seventh-year veteran has also registered two interceptions this season.
Adams Is Always Ready
Last year, safety Jamal Adams made a statement in Foxborough by taking the field for pregame warmups shirtless in frigid temperatures. Then Adams held Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski to zero receptions after Gronk got the better of Adams earlier that year. In these teams’ first meeting this season, Adams delivered a bone-crushing hit on Gronkowski early in the first quarter and the Jets Team MVP finished with 10 tackles and three pass defenses. But Gronkowski, who had three catches for 56 yards including a 34-yard scoring reception, and the Pats took home a 27-13 victory on Nov. 25.
“He’s a good player. He’s young, he goes hard, he’s physical and he’s always ready,” said Gronkowski of the second-year safety. “He’s definitely always ready, so you have to be ready for that guy. He’s playing hard, he knows how to time it up and get some big hits, hit the gaps in the run game. So a guy like him, you have to be prepared.”
The Patriots average 127 rushing yards per game, which ranks seventh in the NFL. Last week, New England ran for 273 yards on 47 carries against the Bills, averaging 5.8 yards a pop. In Week 12, the Jets surrendered 215 yards on the ground to the Patriots and 133 of them came from rookie back Sony Michel, who leads the team with 881 yards and six scores.
“The Patriots came down here and ran the ball really well against us and that’s something that we take pride in is stopping the run and having a good defense,” defensive lineman Leonard Williams said. “So we’re definitely seeing that as a challenge especially seeing how well they’ve been running the ball lately, going up there and stopping the run and getting a win in their home.”
More Special than Roberts and Myers
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said the Jets special teams unit is probably the best they’ve faced all year. While the group features two Pro Bowlers in kicker Jason Myers and returner Andre Roberts, the Green & White’s core runs deep and includes gunners Trenton Cannon and Charone Peake, who rank first and third on the team with 13 and 11 special teams stops, respectively.
“It's exactly what you try to find. Big, long, fast guys that can keep people away from them. If you ask me to go find two gunners, that's what I would find, our two guys,” special teams coordinator Brant Boyer said before adding, “That's made a huge, huge difference in our coverage this year. With two legit gunners that have been there, it’s made a huge difference. It's been good to have those guys and to see the progressions, specifically with Trent and how he's learning everyday and he's tackling.”