Jets quarterback Sam Darnold talks after practice on Wednesday, Oct. 17, in Florham Park, N.J. The Jets play the Vikings on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Andy Vasquez, Staff Writer, @andy_vasquez
FLORHAM PARK — The Jets started their first winning streak since last October with Sunday’s win over the Colts.
But if they hope to make it three straight wins, the Jets are going to have to overcome a whole lot of adversity.
This team is seriously banged up as they get ready to play the Vikings on Sunday. Wednesday’s injury report didn’t feature every player on the roster, but it sure felt like it.
Nine players didn’t practice. Eight-teen players in total were listed on the report. And most of the guys who didn’t practice are key pieces, including defensive end Leonard Williams, running back Isaiah Crowell, wide receivers Robby Anderson, Terrelle Pryor and Quincy Enunwa, cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Buster Skrine, and safety Marcus Maye.
Even starting quarterback Sam Darnold was on the report. But his elbow injury didn’t keep him out of practice and he said it didn’t affect him.
“It’s pretty lengthy,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said of the injury report. “We will see how [the injured players] come back this week and get treatment. If not, we’ve got guys that we are working in just in case and we will be ready to go with those guys.”
The only two players that Bowles was willing to rule out for Sunday are starters: Enunwa and Maye.
It has been widely reported that Enunwa has a high right ankle sprain and Maye suffered a broken right thumb. Both are expected to miss at least a few weeks. But Bowles wouldn’t reveal a timetable for their return Wednesday, or even the extent of their injuries.
“Marcus has a thumb,” Bowles said. “Quincy has an ankle.”
(Presumably, Maye still has two thumbs and Enunwa still has two ankles.)
But Maye and Enunwa are just the start of the Jets’ injury problems.
Williams missed a practice last week with a back injury but returned to play well against Indianapolis. He missed practice again Wednesday with the same injury, but seen walking after without any noticeable problem. The injury still bears watching.
Crowell also seemed to be walking around fine as he deals with a foot injury. He missed two practices last week with an ankle injury but still played, so there’s reason for optimism.
The Jets probably won’t be so lucky with their two starting cornerbacks: it seems unlikely that Johnson or Skrine will play on Sunday.
Johnson hasn’t practiced or played since injuring his quad in practice two weeks ago. Skrine suffered a concussion in the Jets’ Week 5 win over the Broncos and hasn’t practiced since. Neither player was spotted as the Jets began practice on Wednesday.
With three key pieces of the secondary probably missing, the Jets will likely have Doug Middleton or Terrence Brooks fill in for Maye at safety. Darryl Roberts will likely replace Johnson at outside cornerback and rookie Parry Nickerson will replace Buster Skrine as the slot corner in the nickel.
That could be a difficult matchup for Nickerson, as Vikings Pro Bowl receiver Adam Thielen has developed into one of the league’s best options in the slot.
“He’ll be ready to play,” Bowles said of Nickerson. “He is going to face that kind of caliber every week, maybe not of Thielen’s caliber, but he’s going to face those kind of guys every week. He just has to carry out his assignment.”
It’s unclear how severely injured Anderson and Pryor are. Pryor, who has been dealing with a groin injury for several weeks and tweaked it in Sunday’s win, was not on the field for the beginning of practice. Anderson was, but didn’t participate.
As of now, the Jets have only one receiver who wasn’t listed on the injury report: Jermaine Kearse. Both Charone Peake (hamstring) and Andre Roberts (foot/ankle) were on the report but practiced fully.
The Jets brought in several receivers to work out on Tuesday but have yet to sign anyone.
“We are kicking tires with some people,” Bowles said. “We’ll see how the week goes and see how [the receivers are] feeling.”
But no matter who the Jets add or don’t, they’ll less than 100 percent as they face a Minnesota team that was a game away from reaching the Super Bowl last year — and that was before they added Kirk Cousins.
Bowles said on Wednesday that the Jets have developed an identity of a tough team during this rollercoaster season.
Now they’re going to get to prove it.
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