Already down two of their best playmakers for the year, it appears the New York Jets will be without some other important key cogs when they face the AFC East rival New England Patriots in Foxboro this week.
Nose tackle Sione Pouha (above), who’s played at a Pro Bowl-caliber level the last few years, has been banged up this season and has been officially ruled out for Sunday’s game. His backup, Kenrick Ellis, is out injured as well.
The 33-year-old Pouha has been battling a back injury for months now, and he hasn’t been his usual self when he’s been able to take the field this year. Ellis, who’s played well in his second NFL season, has an injured knee.
Pouha and Ellis were both also out last week, so the Jets moved defensive end Mike DeVito over to the nose, and he did a great job filling in. Recently signed Daniel Muir can also play there, as can rookie Damon Harrison.
It’ll probably have to be more of the same against the Patriots, who have shown an increased focus on running the football under offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Expect to see a lot of Mike DeVito on Sunday.
Another defender, veteran safety Eric Smith, is also out for Week 7. Smith is dealing with knee and hip ailments.
Backup running back Bilal Powell, who usually handles third-down duties, will miss this week’s game with a separated shoulder suffered last week. Powell, Smith, Pouha and Ellis did not make the trip to Foxboro this weekend.
Third-stringer Joe McKnight will be a game-time decision himself. He’s trying to tough it out after suffering a high ankle sprain last week. Rookie running back Jonathan Grimes may see his role increased as a result.
The Jets will have to play good football on offense, defense and special teams in order to beat the Patriots on the road. It’s no small task, obviously. They’ll have to dig deep. But they’ve done it before. They can do it again.