New Jets Injury Opens the Door for Rookie’s Increased Role

Kenny Yeboah

Getty New York Jets tight end Kenny Yeboah during Week 9 against the Buffalo Bills.

The New York Jets released their official Week 11 injury report and there was one late addition — tight end Kenny Yeboah.

The special teams ace and third-string TE had been healthy all week up until Friday. He also helped contribute to the Week 9 win over Buffalo. Then all of a sudden, a calf injury sprouted up ahead of the rematch with the New England Patriots.

Yeboah is officially listed as “doubtful” to play on Sunday, alongside the questionable Nate Herbig and two absences — DT Sheldon Rankins and WR Corey Davis. Assuming he doesn’t suit up, Jets fans should see rookie Jeremy Ruckert for the sixth time this season.

New Jets Injury Opens Door for Jeremy Ruckert vs Patriots

In the average offense, the third-string tight end would be an afterthought but the Jets tend to utilize plenty of two-TE sets both in the running game and off play-action. For example, Yeboah was one of the run-blockers on the Michael Carter touchdown against the Bills.

The bigger impact — and opportunity — will certainly come on special teams, however. Yeboah only logged four snaps on offense according to Pro Football Focus in Week 9 but he played a huge role on special teams tying Ashtyn Davis for a team-leading 18 snaps.

That’s Yeboah’s bread and butter though, his hidden talent if you will. Ruckert is still mastering the art of special teams with one of the lower PFF grades on the roster in that area this season (51.4 out of 100).

Still, it’s another chance for the young tight end of the future to hone his NFL tool belt, whether he’s run-blocking or filling in for Yeboah on special teams. Ruckert has been inactive four times this year, in what has been somewhat of a redshirt campaign. Even when he’s dressed, he hasn’t been very involved in the offense.

As expected, the rookie is learning the ropes from established professionals like C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin. It’s a smart strategy by the Jets and one that they hope leads to Ruckert becoming a top-10 NFL tight end someday.

For now, it’s all about the team for the third-round pick, and he’ll continue to do whatever is asked of him whenever he gets the call on Sundays. Who knows, maybe he’ll even catch his first official pass from quarterback Zach Wilson.

Patriots Final Injury Report for Week 11

The Jets injury report also noted that the Pats will be without key defensive lineman Christian Barmore, who was limited most of the week with a knee issue. In fact, ESPN NFL insider Field Yates revealed that the young talent will actually hit the injured reserve earlier today — which came as a bit of a shock.

Punter Jake Bailey is also doubtful with a back ailment and three New England players are officially questionable — wide receiver DeVante Parker (knee), and linebackers Josh Uche (hamstring) and Anfernee Jennings (back). All three were limited in every day of practice this week.

In other news, cornerback Jonathan Jones and defensive end DeMarcus Mitchell appear to have recovered from an illness and safety Kyle Dugger looks healthy after an ankle issue. NYJ left tackle Duane Brown is also ready to go on Sunday, as expected.

Max Mitchell Not Activated Ahead of Week 11

You won’t see him on the injury report but speaking of rookies, right tackle Max Mitchell has not been activated ahead of Week 11 — at least to this point.

The Jets opened his 21-day practice window earlier this week but the fourth-round draft pick was never expected to return against the Patriots. It’s more likely that Mitchell becomes an option in either Week 12 or 13, which both fall inside that 21-day window.

Once the Jets choose to activate him, they’ll have to clear a spot on the 53-man roster — meaning general manager Joe Douglas won’t make that move until he has to.

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