Head coach Robert Saleh was not scheduled to speak until Friday, leaving media and fans unsure of Brown’s short and long-term status for Week 1 and beyond.
Considering Mekhi Becton’s injury issues at the position over the past two seasons, this Week 1 development felt like yet another bad omen for the fanbase. The Jets awarded Brown $20 million on the open market with $9 million guaranteed.
Jets Provide Week 1 Injury Update on LT Duane Brown
Coach Saleh did address the media on September 9, and the prognosis was not great.
“From the information that we gathered today, [Brown’s] going to be out this week,” the Jets HC confirmed. “We’re still gathering information as it pertains to the rest of the evening. We should get some more that will [help] decide [what happens] next week and the following weeks after that.”
Saleh later told reporters that the initial injury occurred during Monday’s practice, but was unwilling to get into the specifics.
Will Parkinson of “Turn on the Jets” predicted that Brown would miss Week 1 earlier in the morning on Friday, but Saleh’s tone implied that this injury could become an extended absence.
“Jets practiced as such yesterday with [George] Fant at LT and [Max] Mitchell at RT preparing for Brown to be out this week and potentially several weeks if IR is needed,” Parkinson added in a follow-up tweet.
As for the short-term injured reserve, Saleh did note that there is a “possibility” of it if the medical updates trend south over the next 24 hours. A designation to IR would mean Brown misses a minimum of four weeks while freeing up a roster spot for the Jets to pursue a second potential replacement.
Lastly, Saleh did confirm that Fant would be moving back to the blindside with the fourth-round rookie, Mitchell, getting his first NFL start against the Baltimore Ravens.
Don’t Panic, or Sound the Alarm?
Fans and media members immediately took to Twitter to give their take on the current predicament at offensive tackle. The Athletic’s Zack Rosenblatt attempted a positive spin on the situation.
“I understand why everyone is freaking out. BUT LT George Fant, LG Laken Tomlinson, C Connor McGovern, RG Alijah Vera-Tucker is 4/5 of a solid offensive line,” he stated. “If they get even average play out of Max Mitchell, they SHOULD be ok.”
Jets X-Factor’s Michael Nania echoed that thought with an added disclaimer: “Granted even with Mitchell I still think this is easily the most talented Jets OL by a wide margin since early 2010s, but having that weak link could hurt against the tough slate of opposing fronts they have to start the year.”
Nania also pointed out that “one helpful thing is that with [Tyler] Conklin and [C.J.] Uzomah (especially Conklin) the Jets should be able to provide Mitchell with solid pass pro help from their TEs, which is something they absolutely did not get from recent TE units.”
His colleague at Jets X-Factor Robby Sabo gave his opinion on how this injury update might affect the Jets’ offense in Week 1. “The Becton and Brown injuries are rough,” he began. “Saleh knocked on wood all summer, and although it appeared as though they got by without major injury, this one hurts. Expect a *lot* of [Braxton] Berrios jet-motion in this offense to aid the OL. That east-west imagery is now crucial.”
This final take from uSTADIUM stung a little. “Start [mock drafting] those OTs to the Jets in 2023,” they tweeted. “Icky Ekwonu was almost a Jet even with Fant and Becton in the fold.”
If Brown is out for an extended period, you have to think the Jets will look at pursuing another veteran stopgap at the position — like Marcus Cannon, Brandon Shell, Darryl Williams or Mike Remmers. The problem is: Joe Douglas is running out of the proper funding to acquire the more premium free agents at this stage, which could mean shopping in the bargain bin.