Jets Sign 2 Ex-Patriots Rookies to Practice Squad as Outbreak Worsens

Isaiah Zuber

Getty Former New England Patriots wide receiver Isaiah Zuber catches a pass in warmups on December 20, 2020.

The New York Jets are battling a COVID-19 outbreak as they prepare to host the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 16.

According to the most recent update, the Jets currently have 18 members of the organization that have tested positive or are missing due to COVID protocol, including head coach Robert Saleh. You can find the full list below.

  • Active players (11): WR Jeff Smith, TE Kenny Yeboah, G Alijah Vera-Tucker, DT Foley Fatukasi, DT Jonathan Marshall, DE John Franklin-Myers, LB Hamsah Nasirildeen, CB Michael Carter II, S Ashtyn Davis, S Sharrod Neasman, ST Justin Hardee.
  • Injured reserve players (2): WR Elijah Moore, LB Blake Cashman.
  • Practice squad players (4): WR Vyncint Smith, DT Tanzel Smart, LB Noah Dawkins, CB Lamar Jackson.

Obviously, that leaves them a bit short-handed for Sunday assuming the game kicks off as scheduled.

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Douglas Scours the Market

On December 21, Joe Douglas signed an extra safety in Will Parks and now he’s adding two more players to the practice squad to fill in the gaps.

Yesterday on December 22, Gang Green announced that they had signed wide receiver Isaiah Zuber and cornerback Kendarius Webster.

Both are former New England Patriots rookies and it should come as no surprise that they each spent time with the San Francisco 49ers as well — Saleh and Mike LaFleur’s old stomping grounds.

The 6-foot WR Zuber went undrafted out of Mississippi State in 2020, although his best college years were the three he spent at Kansas State. He has two career catches on two career targets with the Pats, but has since spent time with the 49ers and Cleveland Browns practice squads in 2021.

The 5-foot-11 CB Webster was a seventh-round pick in 2019. He never played a game for New England but he did register 17 between the Miami Dolphins and Niners the past two seasons. Webster has 25 total tackles, one pass defense, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in the NFL.

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Scouting Zuber, Webster

According to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline, Zuber was expected to get drafted before transferring to Mississippi State where he failed to make an impact. He has also displayed ability as a punt returner but the Jets are doing okay in that regard with Pro Bowl alternative Braxton Berrios on the roster.

Pauline outlined the wide receiver’s greatest strengths: “Plays with solid instincts, comes back to the ball to make himself an available target, and tracks the pass in the air. Gets vertical and exposes himself to the big hit in order to come away with the reception. Extends his hands to snatch the pass away from his frame and displays soft hands. Nicely adjusts to the errant throw.”

Douglas has seen his wide receiver core flounder in recent weeks with Corey Davis and Moore on the injured reserve and the two Smiths on the COVID-19 reserve. This unit is down to just Jamison Crowder, Keelan Cole, Denzel Mims and the aforementioned Berrios, with Zuber joining D.J. Montgomery and Tarik Black on the practice squad.

Webster was a key contributor on special teams for San Francisco logging most of his snaps in the third facet of the game. NFL draft analyst Lance Zierlein once described him as a “part-time outside cornerback who has failed to live up to expectations after a fast start at Ole Miss.”

He continued: “Webster is compact and strong and shows some talent as a run defender, but he lacks juice as man cover corner and is too inconsistent from [the] press.”

The cornerback joins Elijah Benton as the only other defensive back on the practice squad. The Jets do have depth at CB with the only absence being Carter at the moment, but they may have to switch a player like Jason Pinnock or Isaiah Dunn over to safety in a pinch.

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