In a year that has been marked by injuries during NFL training camp, you can add another name to that ever-growing list. According to multiple reports, the New York Jets are going to be without the services of fullback Lex Hilliard for the rest of the 2013 season.
Hilliard went down with a broken scapula, and its being reported that he will undergo surgery to repair the injury. This bad news comes after it was revealed that Quinton Coples will be missing about a month or more with a fractured ankle. So the injury ward at Jets camp just keeps filling up. With the injury, Hilliard will be placed on injured reserve, and will collect his full $715,000 base salary.
With Hilliard going down with the injury, it means that seventh-round draft pick Tommy Bohanon, formerly of Wake Forrest, is now in the clear to become the Jets’ starting fullback. This injury is leaving a big hole in regards to the Jets running game. Not that the Jets running game was going to be one of the elite in the NFL this year, but it makes things a little tougher on the current backs. Hilliard may not have gotten as many touches as some other fullbacks around the league, but he still has enough experience to be able to be of service to Mark Sanchez or whoever is at quarterback for the Jets.
Hilliard’s injury does have an impact on the Jets running game, though. For one, they have to go with a guy in Bohanon who has no experience at all in the NFL, and there’s no way of telling how fast he might be able to adjust to the pro game. So, this really comes as a way to see just how good Bohanon really is. This will be a true test of both the rookie’s skill, and of the Jets running game.
Now the current crop of Jets running backs, from Bilal Powell to Chris Ivory to Joe McKnight, have a bigger guy to run behind. It may help opening up some more holes for them to run through. Hilliard is a tough loss for the Jets running game, but from every indication, Bohanon won’t be too much of a drop off.
The biggest question I’m having here is how well, and how fast, can Bohanon get adjust to play at this level? Once he gets the speed and pace of the game down, the Jets should be fine. I think he can do it. Sure, its a dropoff in talent, but that’s expected with a rookie being asked to step into a big role. There is still a few questions to be answered about the Jets running game, and if the Hilliard injury will really affect it. Those questions should be answered over the next couple of weeks.