Nose tackle Sione Pouha, the lynchpin of the Jets’ defensive line, is expected to make his season debut on Sunday after a back injury kept him out of the season opener.
Pouha is one of the premier run defenders in the NFL, and his presence was sorely missed in the Jets’ Week 1 win, as Rex Ryan‘s defense gave up a very uncharacteristic 195 yards on the ground.
The Steelers have shown a vulnerability with their offensive line, and while Pouha is not a very strong pass rusher, he’ll be a major factor each and every snap he’s on the field, a mountain in the middle of the Jets defense.
Second-year man Kenrick Ellis filled in for Pouha last week, with mixed results. He was driven back off the line of scrimmage a few times, something rarely ever seen with Pouha, even in the midst of a double team.
The Jets have excellent defensive line depth this season, with Pouha, Mike DeVito, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Quinton Coples, as well as Ellis, Marcus Dixon, and Damon Harrison.
That depth will be of vital importance against the Steelers on Sunday, as the Jets will be without All-Pro cornerback and Pittsburgh native Darrelle Revis, who is out with a mild concussion and will not travel with the team.
Against a tough Steelers team, the Jets will need a solid performance all around, in all three phases of the game to come away with a victory. They were able to get that last week, but last week means nothing now.
Having Sione Pouha back will definitely help. But it will have to be a total team effort to get a win on Sunday.
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