Already down a couple of defensive starters before the season-opener in Carolina, the Jets sustained a number of significant injuries against the Panthers and Robert Saleh addressed that list Monday. LT Mekhi Becton, rookie QB Zach Wilson's blind side protector, dislocated his kneecap and will miss a minimum of 4-6 weeks.
Saleh said: "There's a shuffling that has to happen. With respect to Mekhi, he did only practice twice leading up to the game the last two or three weeks. George (Fant) will go to left tackle and Morgan (Moses) will play right tackle. They've gotten a lot of reps, so they'll be able to work."
S Lamarcus Joyner, expected to pair with Marcus Maye throughout the season, tore his triceps against the Panthers and will miss the remainder of the season. Rookie linebacker Jamien Sherwood, who made his first pro start against Carolina, sprained his ankle and will miss a couple of weeks as will veteran backup Blake Cashman (hamstring).
The Jets will enter their Week 2 matchup with the Patriots minus four projected defensive starters in DE Carl Lawson (Achilles/injured reserve), LB Jarrad Davis (ankle/expected to be out until the Jets' Week 6 bye) plus Sherwood and Joyner. Del'Shawn Phillips, a practice-squad promotion, took over for Sherwood Sunday and finished with a team-high 9 tackles. Both Sheldrick Redwine (3 tackles) and Adrian Colbert (3 tackles), another weekend P-squad promotion, lined up at safety after Joyner departed.
The Jets dropped a 19-14 decision to the Panthers, closing the gap in the second half after spotting the home team a 16-0 lead through two quarters.
"I thought what you saw was a young team trying to find its footing," Saleh said. "There are so many small little errors that were made throughout offense, defense and special teams, even from coaching decisions and all that stuff. Just little things here or there, all the way across the board. But got to the locker room talked through it all, made the adjustments that needed to be made, from player, coach, all of it.
"You just saw a better second half. Offensively, we moved the ball a lot better. Defensively, we were able to create more three-and-outs and create a little bit of pressure on Sam (Darnold). But overall, the first game jitters and all that stuff. I don't want to say we expected it, but I'm not surprised."
One surprise was the punting performance from K Matt Ammendola. Forced into emergency duty when Braden Mann was barreled into by a Jets blocker who had been pushed backward, Ammendola averaged 48.5 yards on six punts and had a 65-yard boot. With Mann expected to miss 4-6 weeks, the Jets plan to work out punters this week.
Zach Wilson showed promise in his pro debut, throwing for 258 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT. But the Jets had problems in protection as the rookie signal-caller was sacked six times and hit on 10 occasions. Saleh emphasized that everyone on the offensive side of the ball was culpable for the breakdowns and the Jets will have to move ahead without their biggest piece in Becton.
"We feel very fortunate, we feel we have three legitimate starting tackles," Saleh said. "Getting George (Fant) over there to the left and Morgan (Moses) over there to the right. Obviously Mekhi (Becton) is a heck of a player and a heck of a talent, but to have two veterans who know how to play this game, getting them in there so they can get into a groove is beneficial."
The Jets could have reinforcements on the way at receiver. Jamison Crowder is expected to return to after missing the opener on the Reserve/COVID-19 list while Keelan Cole (knee) is day-to-day.
See All of the Top Images from the Jets' First Game of the 2021 Season