Running back Chris Ivory and cornerback Dee Milliner were the two premier acquisitions of the New York Jets’ offseason, but neither has lived up to expectations through their first three games. Both dealt with injuries in camp, and both have been slow to get things going. Ivory has simply been ineffective as a runner, while the rookie Milliner is clearly struggling to adjust to the NFL.
Unfortunately, it appears that both players will miss Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans with hamstring issues. Ivory re-aggravated his existing injury last week against the Buffalo Bills after receiving just 4 carries. Milliner was injured in practice this week, a discouraging turn of events for a young player who needs all the reps he can get.
The Jets shouldn’t have much concern over replacing Ivory, as Bilal Powell had a career day last week, rushing for 149 yards on 27 carries. Powell’s effectiveness was a huge boost to the Jets’ offense, and he would have received the lion’s share of the carries whether Ivory was healthy or not.
However, expect Alex Green to get more work in third down situations, as he is a good receiver and it will help to keep Powell fresh. Also, fullback Tommy Bohanon will probably receive a few extra carries, particularly in short yardage situations.
At corner, the burden of replacing Milliner will be split between Kyle Wilson and Darrin Walls. The Jets prefer to leave Wilson in his nickel role, so Walls will likely see the majority of the work on the outside. The Titans have three big, athletic receivers in Kenny Britt, Nate Washington and Justin Hunter, and there will be plenty of work for both Walls and Wilson alongside Antonio Cromartie.
The Jets have to be a little concerned that Walls and Wilson will be overmatched athletically, and expect Walls to receive a lot of safety help when he is outside on Washington or Britt. The Jets are confident in their ability to shut down the Titans offensively, but they would feel better with Milliner in there.
Overall, neither of these injures should be a major issue for the Jets. Milliner’s loss is more important than Ivory’s, but he didn’t play a significant role in last week’s win. The replacements for these players are certainly capable, and the Jets still believe they have more than enough talent to go out and get a win on Sunday.