Jets See 4 Starters Return in Week 17, Avoiding Calamity vs. Bucs

John Franklin-Myers

Getty New York Jets defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers on September 19, 2021.

The New York Jets suffered a massive COVID-19 outbreak in Week 16.

Among those missing against the Jacksonville Jaguars were several key starters, including offensive guards Alijah Vera-Tucker and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, as well as edge rusher John Franklin-Myers.

On December 30, ahead of a matchup with the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Jets finally received some positive news.

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Starters Returning in Droves

Earlier in the week on Monday, head coach Robert Saleh had announced that 10-plus players could be returning versus the Bucs — not to mention himself.

On Thursday, New York Jets Twitter made things official for four key pieces, three of which are known for their hyphenated names.

It read: “We’ve activated G Alijah Vera-Tucker, G Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, DE John Franklin-Myers and S Ashtyn Davis.”

JFM and Davis were listed at the beginning of the week as possible returnees but the major surprises are AVT and LDT. Up until Wednesday afternoon, it appeared like the Jets might be forced to start a practice squad call-up at left guard along with everyone’s favorite Greg Van Roten on the right.

Thankfully, it looks like Gang Green and Zach Wilson have avoided that potential calamity for the moment.

Franklin-Myers is another major contributor on the defensive side, as the Jets top-graded performer in 2021 according to Pro Football Focus (minimum 100 snaps). The pass rusher has six sacks off a team-leading 45 quarterback pressures.

The only tricky reinstatement is Davis. The safety position got along just fine without him in Week 16. In fact, free-agent signing Will Parks and rookie Jason Pinnock were the two highest-graded defensive outings on PFF.

It’s unclear whether Saleh and DC Jeff Ulbrich will choose to play the hot hand against Tom Brady, or go back to interim starters Davis and Elijah Riley — who has also returned from concussion protocol.

The following Jets were officially activated from the COVID-19/reserve on Wednesday:

  • DT Folorunso Fatukasi.
  • CB Michael Carter II.
  • LB Hamsah Nasirildeen.
  • TE Kenny Yeboah.
  • DT Jonathan Marshall.
  • QB Joe Flacco.
  • DT Tanzel Smart (practice squad).
  • CB Lamar Jackson (practice squad).
  • LB Noah Dawkins (practice squad).

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Corresponding Moves, Late-Thursday Loss

Most of these athletes rejoined their own spot on the active roster but the practice squad has gotten a bit fuller since the outbreak began. Beat reporter Dennis Waszak Jr. noted that WR Vyncint Smith and DE Hamilcar Rashed Jr. were also “restored to [the practice squad].”

Safety Elijah Benton and wide receiver Isaiah Zuber were released in their place. Running back Tevin Coleman and injured defensive back Zane Lewis were also added to the COVID-19/reserve on Thursday, per Waszak.

Coleman had been a bright spot in recent weeks, helping combine with Michael Carter and Wilson for 273 rushing yards against the Jaguars — a league record in 2021.

ESPN’s Rich Cimini provided an update on the COVID-19 count headed into the weekend.

13 players remain on the reserve list as of now (Marshall is off):

  • DT Quinnen Williams.
  • CB Bryce Hall.
  • RB Tevin Coleman.
  • TE Tyler Kroft.
  • LB Jarrad Davis.
  • S Sharrod Neasman.
  • OL Isaiah Williams (practice squad).
  • DE Jabari Zuniga (practice squad).
  • DB Ken Webster (practice squad).
  • LB LaRoy Reynolds (practice squad).
  • WR Elijah Moore (injured reserve).
  • TE Ryan Griffin (injured reserve).
  • DB Zane Lewis (injured reserve).

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