Week 8 is almost upon us and New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh addressed the media on Friday, October 28, to provide the final injury updates for the upcoming matchup as he always does.
The initial bad news was that veteran wide receiver Corey Davis will be downgraded to “out” against the New England Patriots, but another piece of injury information caught fans by surprise a bit later in the presser.
Concern Level Rises After Noncommittal Update on George Fant
It was long-time New York Post beat reporter Brian Costello who voiced the question on starting offensive tackle George Fant.
“Robert, we asked about Fant on Monday and you said he was back in the building. That kind of triggered something in my mind, did he have a procedure or anything?” Costello pondered.
The response sort of got into the weeds on what appears to be another slow-developing recovery.
“No, I guess it’s new commonplace in the NFL now where guys — if they go on IR they go do some treatment somewhere else and then come back,” Saleh replied, “so it was more therapy and treatment than anything.”
That inspired an obvious follow-up on Fant’s potential timetable to return to practice, which led to another noncommittal response from Saleh.
“We’re taking it week-to-week,” noted Saleh cautiously. “We’ll see next week and then hopefully after the bye week.”
The Jets HC did not elaborate on that statement but the members of the Jets beat put two and two together that Fant will not be ready until after the bye, maybe later. With rookie Max Mitchell out indefinitely, that means Cedric Ogbuehi will be asked to hold down the fort at right tackle for the next two games (minimum).
Heavy on Jets reporter Paul Esden Jr. tweeted what a lot of Jets fans are probably thinking: “[Zack Rosenblatt] shared the quote from Saleh saying the team is ‘hopeful’ [Fant] can return after the bye week. YIKES… George Fant already missed 4 games on IR, won’t be back this week, & maybe he’ll be back after the bye? Oh boy. Jets need that starting caliber OT ASAP.”
Of course, it’s still possible that general manager Joe Douglas trades for another starting offensive tackle before the November 1 deadline but the clock is ticking. In the meantime, Fant’s status and Mitchell’s disappearance are raising some alarms — reminiscent of Mekhi Becton’s lengthy recovery delays in 2021.
Corey Davis’ Absence Is Underrated
Coach Saleh also spoke about the Davis injury, praising all the underrated aspects of his game.
“Losing him, obviously, all the different things he does,” Saleh began, “I know from a fantasy [football] standpoint, people don’t see production but he is by far the most productive [wide receiver] with what he does in the run game, how violent he is in his play-style, and all the big catches he’s made this year.”
Davis has been a sort of unsung hero of this Jets offense in 2022. On October 17, CBS Sports tweeted that “89.5% of all catches by Corey Davis this season have either gone for a first down or a touchdown,” adding that this was the “highest percentage in the NFL” at the time — minimum of 15 receptions.
As he did with Elijah Moore last week, former second-round pick Denzel Mims is expected to spell Davis in Week 8.
“He’s showed up to work and he’s done what he’s [been] asked to do,” Saleh told reporters regarding Mims. “Now he’s going to get his opportunity so hopefully he takes advantage of it.”
This is more of a natural substitution for Mims in terms of role. Like Davis, he’s a plus run blocker and a physical downfield threat, rather than a dynamic route runner known for his speed and lateral ability. We’ll see if the Baylor product settles in more during his second-straight appearance of the year.