Jets Gain 2 Starters, Under-the-Radar Edge Rusher Back From Injury

Kyle Phillips

Getty New York Jets edge rusher Kyle Phillips takes down Robert Griffin III on December 12, 2019.

The New York Jets finally announced some good news this week as it appears a few reinforcements are set to return.

Three long-term injuries are hopefully nearing their end — linebacker Jarrad Davis, punter Braden Mann and edge rusher Kyle Phillips are all expected to be activated off the injured reserve/PUP sooner rather than later. The team announced that they were all “designated to return to practice,” which does not necessarily mean that they’ll play this weekend.

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The Word From Coach Saleh

During his press conference on October 27, Robert Saleh confirmed that Davis would “be out there practicing today,” adding that the staff will “see how it goes.” The linebacker’s status is still up in the air for Week 8 at home versus the Cincinnati Bengals, but this is at least an encouraging sign.

The Jets desperately need the veteran presence back at linebacker, even if C.J. Mosley returns from a one-game hiatus. This defense has been getting torched by the run in 2021, which hasn’t happened too often in years past, ranking 25th in the NFL in rush yards allowed per game.

Davis has experience as a physical thumper who could help stabilize this unit alongside Mosley and Quincy Williams. Gang Green is also expected to add bodies at linebacker in the coming days, after injuries to Jamien Sherwood and Blake Cashman.

Saleh’s final designation for Davis was “day-to-day.” He’s been out since the second preseason game against the Green Bay Packers with an ankle injury and has yet to factor in a regular-season outing with the franchise.

As for Mann and Phillips, Saleh noted that “they do” have a chance to play this week, but added that he’d like to see “how they look at practice” before committing to their availability.

Veteran Thomas Morstead has performed well at punter in Mann’s stead, but he was always a placeholder for the 2020 draft pick. The special teams’ prospect has been out since Week 1.

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Will Phillips Make His Long-Awaited Return?

Before Bryce Huff ever came into the picture, the breakout UDFA at edge rusher was the Tennessee product out of the 2019 rookie class. Phillips accomplished 1.5 sacks during his rookie campaign, with nine quarterback pressures and 39 total tackles as a rotational piece.

Ex-Jet D-lineman Leger Douzable recently referred to him as an “under [the] radar player,” and the pass-rusher definitely fits that mold. Pro Football Focus graded Phillips as a plus-run defender during his first two campaigns with 76.6 and 65.4 run defense marks in 2019 and 2020.

As we mentioned above, the Jets could use some help in this area and we have yet to see if his pass-rushing ability can progress in this Saleh system that is known for attacking the QB.

Phillips is just 24 years old. He appeared in seven games in 2020 (11 tackles, three pressures) before getting carted off the field in Week 7 with a severe ankle injury that ended up requiring surgery. This would be the first time he takes the football field since his departure.

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