Jets Get Boost From Ex-First Rounder Ahead of Vikings Clash

Sheldon Rankins, Jets

Getty New York Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins celebrating after a huge play in an NFL game.

The New York Jets are getting some unexpected help ahead of their pivotal December clash with the Minnesota Vikings.

Head coach Robert Saleh announced on Friday, December 2 that defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins would be a “full participant” in practice.

The former first-round draft choice suffered a “dislocated elbow” per ESPN NFL Insider Jeremy Fowler and was expected to miss between four and six weeks.

Rankins suffered that injury on November 6 versus the Buffalo Bills and now he is set to return less than a month later on Sunday, December 4.

Some Much Needed Help on the Jets IDL

The 28-year-old was in the midst of a career season before suffering that serious injury versus Buffalo.

Rankins already has two sacks, four quarterback hits, and three tackles for loss on the year.

Pro Football Focus gave the former Louisville product a 74.5 overall grade and an impressive 70.6 pass-rush grade in nine games this season.

“Knock on wood he has been having such a nice year,” Saleh told the media on Friday. “Effective at pass rushing, been disruptive in the run game, veteran leadership, and knows how to play the game.”

It’s not only what Rankins can do for himself as a talented player but it’s also the ripple effects he’ll cause for his teammates.

For example, Quinnen Williams already has eight sacks on the year (a new career high) and more players balling out around him will only help him get favorable matchups.

Jets IDL Could Decide Winner of Vikings Game

Rankins’ return to the lineup couldn’t have come at a better time.

Michael Nania of Jets X-Factor did a terrific job of diving into the numbers to explain the biggest mismatch in this upcoming game on Sunday.

“The interior trio of Ezra Cleveland (LG), Garrett Bradbury (C), and Ed Ingram (RG) are one of the NFL’s worst when it comes to pass protection. The Vikings’ interior offensive linemen have combined to allow 100 pressures this season, which is the most of any IOL unit in the NFL. From an efficiency perspective, they have combined to allow pressure on 6.79% of their pass-blocking snaps, which ranks 31st ahead of only the tanking Houston Texans.”

The Jets will have Williams and Rankins up to bat to challenge that unit. Additionally Gang Green has their patented defensive line rotation which should also keep this unit on their heels.

The Vikings have Kirk Cousins back at quarterback and he is a pocket passer. So if the Jets can disrupt the interior and get penetration Cousins will be forced to try to do something he’s uncomfortable with.

Cousins isn’t putting up the same video game numbers he has in the past. So far he already has nine interceptions on the year which is already more than he had all of last season (seven).

Naturally, pocket-passing quarterbacks want to step up into the pocket but with the strength of the Jets’ defensive line that will prove difficult.

Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell said Williams is “as impactful as any interior lineman in the league” which is pretty high praise.

The Jets will need him to perform that way on the road for the Jets to get a win of this caliber.

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