Have you ever heard the expression, it’s anybody’s game?
Well, that thought may not come to mind when you see the 0-3 New York Jets matched up against the 2-1 Tennessee Titans. Looks can often be deceiving though, and I’m here to explain why this could be anybody’s game in Week 4.
The two franchises released their initial injury reports on Wednesday, September 29, and the early forecast was clear, this will be a battle of attrition.
What do I mean by that? There are so many key injuries for each side that the Jets and Titans are practically meeting on a level playing field — or at least as level as you can get when the underdog is coming off a shutout loss.
ALL the latest Jets news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Jets newsletter here!
Jets-Titans Injury Report
We’ll do a quick rundown of the injury report before breaking down the details on each side. ESPN’s Rich Cimini had the coverage via Twitter.
Now, we already know about most of the Jets’ injuries so the home side will be a little more of a recap for some, but the Titans have a lengthy list to discuss.
First up, the bombshell of the week, safety Marcus Maye. It’s been a tenuous offseason for the defensive playmaker, to say the least. His agent Erik Burkhardt made it clear that he and his client felt the franchise owed them an extension. Of course, that extension never came.
Playing on a franchise tag, Maye then injured his ankle for “3-4 weeks” and Burkhardt let the world know just how upset his client was. “Should be back fully healthy just before the trade deadline…,” Burkhardt antagonized on Twitter with a handshake emoji.
It would not be an overreaction to think that Week 3 of 2021 will go down as Maye’s final game with the Jets. On the bright side, head coach Robert Saleh alluded that backups Ashtyn Davis and Sharrod Neasman are close to playing in games. The pair returned to practice this week and the HC hinted that they could be back as early as Week 4 or Week 5.
Next up are the wide receivers. Both Elijah Moore and Jeff Smith have concussions. The rookie suffered his in Denver, during the Week 3 thumping. Smith on the other hand suffered his on September 29 during a car accident that occurred on the way to practice.
The only positive news was with slot receiver Jamison Crowder. Saleh told reporters that “it’s trending that way for sure, we’re expecting it,” when asked about his availability against the Titans after a limited practice appearance. The veteran pass-catcher has been out since the start of the season with a groin injury and a positive COVID test.
Tight end Tyler Kroft also practiced in a limited fashion on Wednesday after a rib injury. If he’s unable to go on Sunday, rookie Kenny Yeboah is expected to receive his first practice squad elevation of the season.
Follow the Heavy On Jets Facebook page, where you can weigh in on all the latest NYJ-related daily content, analysis, features and more!
Road Warriors Have Their Work Cut out for Them
If you thought the Jets injuries were bad, just scroll down to Tennessee’s portion of the report. The road team has a ton of different issues heading into Week 4 and head coach Mike Vrabel discussed a couple of them on September 29.
Brown is currently dealing with a hamstring injury and is unlikely to play on Sunday. The bigger surprise was Jones, who also missed Wednesday’s practice with a hamstring issue. “We’ll see how we are today at practice,” Vrabel told the media when asked about his top two receivers, “we’ll see what they can do.”
That’s straight out of the Bill Belichick school of answering questions, but Vrabel’s injury report can’t hide as much as he can. NFL insider Ian Rapoport shed some light on the situation.
Rapoport phrased Jones’ status as “up in the air,” while Brown is trending towards a Week 4 absence. Four other players missed Wednesday’s practice for Tennessee, and none of them were no-names.
Three will affect the Titans in the trenches on either side. Taylor Lewan is huge for this team. The left tackle just got back in pads on September 22, but a toe ailment could put him right back on the pine. The Jets’ opponent will be forced to lean on the run game and without Lewan, that could be more of a challenge than normal.
Tennessee enters Week 4 as the 19th ranked offensive line according to 4for4. New York is ranked 29th on that list, which will come into play when discussing the next couple of wounded Titans.
Big-money edge rusher Bud Dupree and 2020 fifth-rounder Larrell Murchison (DL) did not practice due to knee and elbow injuries. Dupree is the more integral of the two and you might remember him from his days in Pittsburgh as T.J. Watt’s partner in crime. He has yet to be fully healthy for his new squad but the Titans pass-rush has remained as one of its strengths despite this, ranking eighth in “pass rush win rate.” The Jets rank fourth in that category.
Finally, rookie first-rounder Caleb Farley will continue on his non-practice designation. Tennessee could use the cornerback but he has yet to truly factor in a game, aside from eight defensive snaps in Week 1. He was known to be an injury risk throughout the scouting process.
Fellow CB Kristian Fulton, guard Rodger Saffold, punter Brett Kern and defensive lineman Teair Tart make up the list of limited practices while linebacker Jayon Brown and tight end Anthony Firkser seem to be healthy with full practices.
Saffold is another impactful name in the Titans’ run game. In a recent interview, the top-ranked guard voiced some uncertainty about his status, noting that he’s “not able to tell the future.”
With all these injuries for both franchises, there should also be a ton of uncertainty on Sunday. We’ll keep you updated throughout the week right here on Heavy on Jets, but know that the result of this contest has yet to be determined and Gang Green has a major opportunity to steal one at home in Week 4.