FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The New York Jets have quite a conundrum at cornerback.
Injuries are piling up at a position that wasn’t very deep to begin with, and Adam Gase is relegated to trying to put a positive spin on things rather than simply panic.
“This is a great opportunity for a lot of guys,” Gase said Monday after an injury-filled practice. “Somebody has a chance to step up and make a name for themselves.”
Top cornerback Trumaine Johnson is the biggest name and most experienced of the Jets cornerbacks, but he is sidelined indefinitely with a hamstring injury suffered in practice Sunday. Johnson was being counted on to have a bounceback season after injuries and inconsistency resulted in a down first season with New York.
But, he might not take the field again for a while. He had an MRI on his hamstring, and Gase didn’t sound optimistic.
“That’s just going to be time,” Gase said. “I don’t think it’ll be months, but, I mean, we’ll see. We’re going to be week-to-week right now. It’s all going to be about how his body responds to the rehab when the strength guys get a hold of him.”
On Monday, the starting cornerbacks were: Darryl Roberts, mostly a backup during his first four NFL seasons; veteran Brian Poole, whose role will be primarily as the nickel corner; and undrafted rookie Kyron Brown, who has looked promising while rising up the ever-changing depth chart.
But Brown, from Akron, left practice with a hamstring issue of his own after chasing down Robby Anderson during drills. He clutched the back of his left leg before leaving the field with a trainer.
Arthur Maulet, who spent the last two seasons with the Saints and Colts, joined the starters on defense after Brown went out.
The Jets’ roster currently includes six other cornerbacks: Parry Nickerson, a sixth-rounder last year; Tevaughn Campbell, who played four seasons in the CFL; Montrel Meander, who spent last season with the Browns and Raiders; Dee Delaney, who had stints with Jacksonville and Miami last year; Mark Myers, who has been with the Buccaneers, the Alliance of American Football and the CFL; and undrafted rookie Alex Brown out of South Carolina State.
It’s hardly a who’s who list of experienced defensive backs.
“Somebody has a chance to get in with that first defense and go against our wide receivers, go against our offense and Sam (Darnold) and those guys and see if the guy can play at that high level,” Gase said. “When you’re in a next-man-up mentality, you’re not going to sit there and worry about, ‘Hey, what should we do?’ That’s what personnel guys get paid for. They spend all their time doing that, going through waiver wires, going through to see if there are trades. They evaluate that stuff.
“Who we have on the roster and the guys that we’re working with out there, those are the guys that we’re playing with until somebody tells us different.”
DE Henry Anderson left practice to be evaluated for a possible concussion. ... LG Kelechi Osemele was being evaluated for a strained pectoral. “They feel pretty good that it’s nothing more than that,” Gase said. ... DE Leonard Williams remained out of practice while recovering from irritation in his hip. ... RG Brian Winters is still out with a shoulder injury. ... LBs Blake Cashman (calf/hamstring) and Harvey Langi (knee) sat out.
RB Le’Veon Bell has enjoyed watching Gase lead his offense every day in camp against Gregg Williams’s defense — and the intensity with which both bring.
“That’s like the best thing I’ve ever been a part of,” said Bell, in his first season with the Jets after five with the Steelers. “When you see that competition between those two guys, I literally never had nothing like it. Coach Williams is a defensive genius versus an offensive genius. Both of those guys go at it each and every day.”
Gase is uncertain as to when — or if — Bell will play this preseason. The veteran running back played sparingly in previous summers while with Pittsburgh, and New York wants to be “smart” with Bell, who sat out all last season in a contract dispute.
“It’s hard having to be patient and wait, but at the same time, I know it’s for the better good,” Bell said. “When Week 1 comes around, I’m going to be happy out there playing. It’s like, OK, the lights are on, it’s time to go.”
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