The New York Jets took a significant hit to their defensive unit Saturday when pass rusher Quinton Coples suffered a hairline fracture in his right ankle. Coples will miss three to four weeks with the injury, and he will reportedly not need surgery.
Both the Jets and Coples are lucky that the injury was not as severe as it could have been, but it is still a very unfortunate occurrence for both team and player. Coples will miss the remainder of the preseason and it seems a safe bet that he will be out for Week 1 as well. The Jets play the New England Patriots in the Thursday night game in Week 2, so the short week means we can comfortably assume the earliest we will see Coples this season is in Week 3.
Coples is in the process of making the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker, and this injury is obviously going to make that more difficult. Coples is going through the learning process at his new position, and he needs practice reps to continue to gain a comfort level with this different role. The lost practice time is a major concern because he will have to hit the ground running upon his return.
The Jets’ pass rush is one of the major concerns for the team this season, and they will still be expecting Coples to be their leading sack artist upon his return. In the meantime, however, Antwan Barnes will have to take on bigger role and be the star pass rusher for the defense. If he can’t do this, Josh Freeman and Tom Brady could have their way with the Jets in the first two games.
Ricky Sapp is a player who could step up for the Jets in the coming weeks. He recorded a sack against the Jacksonville Jaguars and he will certainly see his reps increase following Coples’ injury. Sapp has been thought of as a breakout candidate all summer, and it seems his opportunity will now come sooner rather than later.
Fortunately, Coples should be able to return and contribute for the majority of the season. However, this was not a setback the Jets needed right now considering all the other issues on their team. They will need somebody to step up in Coples’ absence, and the Jets will certainly be hoping for a very fast recovery for their star linebacker.