The New York Jets will be playing the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 of the regular season. What is the latest news on the injury front heading into the game?
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Jul 28, 2016; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles speaks to the media during training camp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals will be coming into 2016 with some unfinished business. In Week 17 of the 2015 regular season, the Jets suffered a bad loss to the Buffalo Bills. The loss ended up costing the Jets a spot in the playoffs despite having a 10-6 record.
For the Bengals, 2015 also ended on a sour note. Cincinnati was eliminated from the playoffs by the Pittsburgh Steelers despite a good effort without Andy Dalton. The Bengals continue to be a team that seems so close to making some noise in the NFL, but they keep falling short when it counts for one reason or another.
Coming into Week 1, both teams are relatively healthy but there are a few notable injuries on each side. Against the New York Giants, the Jets lost starting middle linebacker David Harris to a shoulder injury. In addition to Harris being injured, linebacker Jordan Jenkins is also battling a calf injury.
While the Jets’ injury report isn’t long, the Bengals’ is even shorter. They will be coming into Week 1 with just two players listed on the injury report, and they are tight end Tyler Eifert and cornerback Darqueze Dennard.
Finally, with the start of the 2016 season almost here for the Jets, let’s take a look at the latest injury news for them and the Bengals.
Sep 1, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert (85) against the Indianapolis Colts in a preseason NFL football game at Paul Brown Stadium. The Colts won 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
– Tyler Eifert (Out), Darqueze Dennard (Doubtful)
Even though the Bengals only have two players listed on their injury report, they are two important players. Tight end Tyler Eifert was not expected to be playing in Week 1 after recovering from offseason ankle surgery.
The loss of him with certainly be noticed in Week 1, as he was one of Andy Dalton’s favorite targets last season. In 2015, Eifert totaled 52 receptions, 615 receiving yards, and 13 receiving touchdowns. The absence of Eifert will certainly be felt in the red zone for the Bengals, as he led the team in receiving touchdowns last season.
While Eifert is a big loss on offense for the Bengals, Darqueze Dennard is an important member of the secondary. The Jets’ offense is going to be looking to spread the Bengals out in this game with their depth at wide receiver. Without Dennard, the Bengals might be at a disadvantage if the Jets line up with four or five wide receivers.
Dennard is officially listed as doubtful for the game, but that usually means that he will not be playing. The Jets can certainly benefit from both of them being out in this game, as they have a few injuries of their own.
Nov 12, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets inside linebacker David Harris (52), New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) and New York Jets outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin (55) stand during the national anthem at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports
– David Harris (Questionable)
There has been a lot of concern about the status of David Harris for Week 1. For the past seven years, Harris hasn’t missed a game for the Jets, but this certainly appeared to be a close one. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, Harris has been limited at practice, but they seem hopeful that he will be able to suit up.
If something happens to Harris between now and Sunday, the Jets would have to start first round pick Darron Lee. We should still see Lee a good amount against the Bengals, as the Jets’ coaching staff will have him on the field on passing downs to improve coverage.
“He ran, and he did some things,” Bowles said to Darryl Slater. “We’ve still got to see, from a strength standpoint, where he is, though. He’s going to have to work out and do some things, to show he can play.”
Harris is one of the leaders of the defense, and it would certainly be bad for the Jets if they are down two starting linebackers in Week 1. Due to Harris being limited, expect to see Lee on the field more than usual.
Aug 11, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Chris Ivory (33) is tackled by New York Jets outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins (48) during the first quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
– Jordan Jenkins (Doubtful)
While the news about Harris is somewhat optimistic, that is not that case for Jordan Jenkins. Heading into Sunday, Jenkins is listed as doubtful for the Jets, as he was unable to practice in any capacity all week. Jenkins was projected to be the starting outside linebacker for the Jets, but that responsibility will now likely fall on Mike Catapano.
Catapano was with the Jets last season, but he only appeared in three games all year. However, Catapano was able to record a sack in one of those games. Due to the Jets being a bit thin at linebacker, we might see them in more of a 4-3 defense against the Bengals, which is certainly something they can do.
Unfortunately, with that plan, the Jets are without Sheldon Richardson against the Bengals due to a one-game suspension. Due to Jenkins likely being out, that makes it even more important that Harris is able to suit up for the Jets on Sunday.
Jul 28, 2016; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) participates in a drill in front of wide receiver Eric Decker (87) during training camp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
– Some good news
Two Jets that were not listed on the injury report were wide receiver Brandon Marshall and defensive end Leonard Williams. Against the Giants, Marshall surprisingly sat out with a hip injury that worried many. Marshall was limited at practice on Wednesday, but he returned to full practice on both Thursday and Friday.
Even though the Jets have depth at wide receiver, Marshall is without a doubt the best one they have. If the hip was a problem for Marshall, the Jets’ offense would be in big trouble on Sunday.
Williams’ hip might have been a bit more serious than Marshall’s injury, as he was limited on both Wednesday and Thursday at practice before returning fully on Friday. Williams was one of the best performers for the Jets in the preseason and is poised for a breakout year. The Jets simply couldn’t afford to have both Williams and Richardson out against the Bengals, and luckily they won’t.
It is a very good sign to not see either Marshall or Williams listed on the injury report.