Lost in the shuffle of the New York Jets quarterback drama were two big returns at practice on November 23.
Head coach Robert Saleh announced the good news during his Wednesday press conference. “Corey [Davis] will be a full participant so he’s back at practice and we’re opening up George [Fant’s] practice window,” he informed.
Davis — who is integral in the run game as well as the passing game — has been out since Week 7 with a knee injury. Fant’s extended absence has been much more curious, and some fans have speculated on whether or not he’ll ever play for the Jets again. Now he has 21 days to get himself back on the field or he’ll be relegated to the season-ending injured reserve.
Jets Week 12 Injury Update Rules Out Sheldon Rankins
Coach Saleh also hit on a few other injuries during this presser. The only player that was immediately ruled out for Sunday’s matchup against the Chicago Bears was defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins.
The lineman’s timeline was always expected to be a multi-week absence so this isn’t a huge shock, although the Jets’ decision not to place Rankins on IR hints that he could be ready to go in Week 13 or 14. Against the New England Patriots, Gang Green chose to elevate veteran Tanzel Smart from the practice squad in his place. He performed admirably with two tackles and one huge run stuff on 18 defensive snaps.
Saleh also revealed that tight end Kenny Yeboah is still ailing from the calf injury that sidelined him in Week 11. The special teams ace missed practice on Wednesday and is day-to-day according to the Jets HC.
Sauce Gardner was also limited with a calf injury, although Saleh quickly calmed any nervousness by adding that he should be fine by the weekend. Linebacker Quincy Williams was also limited with an ankle injury.
The final update was on right guard Nate Herbig, who was surprisingly held out of the battle in New England. Saleh voiced that the Jets “feel really good” about the blocker’s status on Sunday.
Corey Davis Return Will Help Jets Struggling Offense
Replacing Zach Wilson with Mike White might help the Jets’ offense operate more efficiently but a Davis return is sure to do so. As mentioned in the introduction, the veteran wide receiver helps this unit in more ways than one.
As a receiver, Davis has been a first-down machine in 2022, and the Jets didn’t register many passing first downs against the Pats. On October 17, CBS Sports reported that “89.5% of all catches by Corey Davis this season have either gone for a first down or a touchdown.”
As a blocker, Davis has really helped push the Jets’ outside run game over the top. Jets X-Factor’s Michael Nania posted the production numbers with him on the field, compared to the games that the franchise has been without him.
The Jets running backs have 575 yards off 111 carries (5.18 yards per carry) with Davis out there as a blocker. Without him, they only have 426 yards off 109 carries (3.91 yards per carry).
“If you’re wondering whether the last 3 games without [Breece] Hall affected these numbers; they really haven’t,” Nania followed up. “Still held up through the first 7 games while Hall was playing. From Weeks 1-7, [the] Jets still averaged only 4.17 YPC with Davis off, a full yard less than when he was on.”
Davis is also a team leader, and this offense could use his experience right now. Chemistry has been an obvious issue of late as well as route-running and playbook knowledge. As you can see, the 2021 captain’s return is underrated for so many reasons.
It’ll be interesting to see which wide receiver is inactivated with Davis back in the lineup — if any.