Jets Break Silence on Severity of Sheldon Rankins Injury

Sheldon Rankins, Aaron Rodgers

Getty New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins pursues Aaron Rodgers against the Green Bay Packers.

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh addressed the media again this morning on November 16 ahead of Week 11 against the New England Patriots.

This time, he came bearing good tidings about defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins. When news of the veteran starter’s injury first surfaced, it appeared to be a four-week injury, minimum.

After all, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that the dislocated elbow could cost Rankins four to six weeks depending on the recovery process. Fortunately, there was no game during the initial week of that injury timeline and based on Saleh’s update this morning, the key defensive piece might just avoid the injured reserve altogether.

Jets ‘Pretty Confident’ About Sheldon Rankins’ Timeline

During the aforementioned press conference, Saleh was asked to provide several injury updates. That included Rankins, who will definitely miss Week 11.

“Rankins has been fantastic, he’s having a really nice season,” Saleh began before getting to his status, “hopefully this injury’s not too long.”

After the reporter followed up about the injured reserve, the Jets HC admitted that he’s “pretty confident” that Rankins will not have to go on IR.

From the start, the Green & White noted that they would wait until after the bye week to decide on Rankins, being that it would not count towards a potential four-game absence. Now, it appears that the Jets’ patience has allowed them to keep their options open at D-tackle.

If this plan from Saleh holds true, one would have to assume that the NYJ training staff has given the indication that Rankins could return before Week 15 — which is how long an IR stint would sideline him. Even if it’s Week 13 or 14 — more likely based on the injury — that would be an expedited recovery process considering the severity of the initial prognosis.

Robert Saleh Hints at Jets’ Plan to Replace Sheldon Rankins

Hidden in this injury update was a minor “tell” from Saleh, potentially. “It’s next man up mentality,” the Jets HC voiced during the presser. “We’ll see how the week goes with how we utilize it — we’ve been playing plus-two on the D-line, activating 10 [players] anyway. So we’ll figure it out as the week goes.”

At least in terms of Week 11, it’s now too late to sign a replacement. By the time a veteran would join practice officially, it’d be Thursday, and that isn’t enough practice to learn a new system that is as gap-precise as this one. It took Rankins a full season to turn into the player he was signed to become under Jeff Ulbrich and Saleh, after all.

With that plan out the window short-term, one of two strategies will be utilized on Sunday and both could easily be interpreted as what Saleh was hinting at above.

Option A: The Jets go next man up and elevate either Jonathan Marshall or Tanzel Smart from the practice squad on Saturday. The former is a raw talent that was drafted in 2021, an athletic block of clay for this coaching staff to get their hands on.

The latter is a hard-working journeyman that has caught the eye of fans during the preseason more than once. Starting defensive end John Franklin-Myers recently supported a Smart promotion on Twitter.

Option B involves “JFM” himself, and possibly rookie Micheal Clemons as well. Both are versatile enough to play D-tackle if called upon having proven themselves in the run game, but will Saleh make the shift to a somewhat undersized body alongside Quinnen Williams?

If they committed to Franklin-Myers as a stop-gap on the interior, it would allow more playing time for rising stars like Jermaine Johnson II and Bryce Huff. We should know the Jets’ plan by Saturday afternoon, if not sooner.

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