When the New York Jets play the AFC East rival Buffalo Bills on Sunday, they may be without two of their best third-down targets, as running back LaDainian Tomlinson and receiver Jeremy Kerley battle knee injuries.
The 32-year-old Tomlinson and the 23-year-old Kerley both are dealing with MCL sprains suffered in the Jets’ Week 10 loss to the New England Patriots on November 13 and have not been able to practice since.
Both of them have been a big part of the Jets’ third-down offense, as they have become reliable targets of Mark Sanchez when the Jets are in need of a big conversion.
Without them last week, the Jets managed just one touchdown in a loss to the Denver Broncos, dropping their overall record to 5-5 and putting them in danger of falling out of the AFC playoff race.
In that game, running backs Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell saw increased playing time on offense, along with wide receiver Patrick Turner, as the Jets tried to find a way to replace Tomlinson and Kerley.
It appears likely that the Jets will have to go back to that formula again, as both of the injured players are still listed as questionable on the injury report and it appears unlikely hat either of them will be able to play.
Fortunately, the Jets are not the only team dealing with injury problems. The Bills have been decimated by injuries all season, culminating with the loss of star running back Fred Jackson this week.
That’s why there is simply no excuses for the Jets this week. They are at home against an opponent they beat on the road three weeks ago and should beat again.
The margin for error is minuscule. They know what’s at stake. The losing team on Sunday can pack up their proverbial tent and go home. A win on Sunday is the only option.