With Injuries Mounting at Guard, Jets Claim ‘Coveted’ UDFA

Alijah Vera-Tucker

Getty New York Jets guard Alijah Vera-Tucker at training camp on July 28, 2021.

Last night on August 9, the New York Jets made yet another roster move.

After his injury during the Green & White scrimmage, the franchise decided to waive undrafted free agent Teton Saltes (OT/G), marking the fourth UDFA out of the original 12-man class to either get cut or hit the injured reserve.

Field Yates was amongst those that announced the transaction via Twitter.

Carolina Panthers UDFA David Moore will take Saltes’ roster spot, but the Jets may try and transfer the injured offensive tackle to their reserve if he passes through waivers. In the meantime, Moore supplements an area that has been thinned by absences.

Since the start of training camp, Gang Green has lost six offensive linemen for various lengths of time. That number does not include UDFA Parker Ferguson, who was the first to be placed on the injured reserve back in June. The rest are listed below.

  • George Fant (OT), missed eight practices after testing positive for COVID-19 but is now healthy.
  • Chuma Edoga (OT), out indefinitely with a knee injury, has not been placed on IR.
  • Alijah Vera-Tucker (G), day-to-day with a pectoral injury, should be back before the Green Bay Packers preseason game or sooner.
  • Cameron Clark (G/T), out indefinitely with a neck injury, was originally hospitalized but has since been cleared of any spinal damage. The timetable for his return is unclear.
  • Alex Lewis (G), moved off the roster to the Exempt/Left Squad list, future with the team is unclear and retirement could be a possibility after a recent head injury.
  • Saltes (OT), waived after injury.

One quick note on Lewis. Head coach Robert Saleh told reporters that “he’s going through some things that are much greater than football right now,” during a press conference after the scrimmage on August 7.

Saleh added that the Jets are “leaving the line of communication open for [Lewis]” as he sorts things out.

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Who Is Dave Moore?

The former Grambling State guard seems to sometimes go by ‘Dave,’ and was classified as a “coveted” UDFA by Yates. If that’s the case, it’s no surprise that general manager Joe Douglas jumped on the opportunity to bring him over from Carolina.

UDFAs are the former scout’s bread and butter, and it has become commonplace for the Jets GM to give a plethora of undrafted prospects an opportunity in each of his offseasons on the job.

Some of them have worked out magnificently — think Bryce Huff and Javelin Guidry. Others have not, but you generally find out pretty quickly when they don’t.

As for Moore, he certainly fits the Douglas build. The developmental guard has a “dense frame [that] is thickly muscled from head to toe,” according to NFL draft analyst Lance Zierlein. He even went as far as to write that his calves look like “small pumpkins.”

Zierlein had Moore projected to go in the fourth or fifth round, so clearly there’s some potential here. The overview read as follows.

“Well-built guard prospect with outstanding upper-body power and a nasty streak as a block finisher. He’s still a little raw from a technical standpoint and needs to play with better patience and control, but Moore has an intriguing combination of strength and quickness that should be intriguing to teams. Becoming more consistent with his footwork, leverage and hand placement will be key for him to go from prospect to starter in the future. Playing a lower level of competition and the lack of a 2020 fall season could make for an extended runway of development, but the physical gifts and toughness are compelling.”

The Grambling State product is 6-foot-2, 330-pounds, with 34 and an eighth-inch arms and nine and five-eighth-inch hands. Moore was a burnout in Carolina but he’ll get a second chance under OL coach John Benton in New York.

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Quick Decision by Douglas Could Mean Trouble

Who knows, it’s possible that Douglas was interested in Moore after the draft and was beaten to the punch by Panthers GM Scott Fitterer. It’s also possible that this transaction could precursor prolonged absences for the guards that are currently missing in action.

Vera-Tucker is the most integral piece that’s sidelined, but breathe easy Jets fans because the 2021 first-round pick should be back in no time.

I’d be more worried about Lewis and Clark, whose journey back has no exact timeline — it’s really hard not to make an early 1800s expedition joke here, but I’ll refrain because Clark did suffer an injury that could have been very serious.

The Green and White may need Moore’s services sooner than they would have hoped, but you never know what an upside waiver claim could turn into. John Franklin-Myers and Braxton Berrios started their Jets careers as players that Douglas hawked off waivers.

Let’s see if the wily GM can pull another rabbit out of the hat with his latest addition.

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