The Jets entered the game against the Broncos relatively healthy.
Gang Green defeated the Broncos 16-9, but it came at a heavy price.
Jets coach Robert Saleh announced Monday that running back Breece Hall would miss the rest of the 2022 season due to an ACL tear and a minor meniscus tear. He also announced offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker would miss the rest of the year after tearing his biceps as he will undergo surgery to repair the injury.
“It is always tough,” Saleh said. “Those are two potential Pro Bowlers between Breece and AVT [Vera-Tucker]. We experienced this back in 2020 back in San Francisco and lost a handful of guys for the season.
“It’s the NFL, so next man up. Michael Carter has proven he can carry the load. Ty Johnson has done a really nice job and with our offensive line all year, we have a lot of faith in the guys that are here to step in and continue to do the job.”
Hall suffered the injury when he was tackled near the sideline by Patrick Surtain II and Jonas Griffith as he did not return to the game. He was helped off the field and later carted into the locker room.
In a tweet, Hall said, “Appreciate the endless love and support! Another step along the journey, see y’all soon.”
Losing Hall and Vera-Tucker is devastating for the Jets’ offense. Hall has been the catalyst while Gang Green’s passing attack under Zach Wilson has struggled since his return from a meniscus and bone bruise in Week 4. Vera-Tucker has been the team’s best offensive lineman as he has played at left guard, left tackle and most recently right tackle after George Fant (knee) was placed on injured reserve.
With Vera-Tucker out, veteran Cedric Ogbuehi, who was signed off the Texans practice squad in September, will start at right tackle against the Patriots. Saleh doesn’t expect Fant, who is scheduled to come off injured reserve this week, to be ready to game action. Fant injured his knee in the Week 3 loss to the Bengals.
“I don’t think it’s going to be this week,” Saleh said. “He’s doing great, he’s back in the building. I talked to him this morning and he feels great.
“As far as him returning, I’m not exactly sure how far that is yet.”
Hall rushed for 463 yards and four touchdowns in seven games on 80 attempts. He also caught 19 receptions for 218 yards and a touchdown as Hall looked like a candidate to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
“It is very tough, especially with what Breece has brought to our team,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “His mindset, his work ethic, everything he has given to this point has been great.
“It is always hard to have that kind of injury in the middle of the season. As a player, as a teammate, as a player, as a friend, it is our job to keep him motivated now that he’s in that position. We know how great he is on and off the field.”
Hall, along with wide receiver Garrett Wilson and cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, all selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, have all made an immediate impact as rookies.
Now the Jets will have to find new ways to score points offensively. The Jets have gone three games without Wilson throwing a passing touchdown.
The team’s defense has played a significant role in the Jets’ 5-2 record. Gang Green currently ranks 10th in yards allowed (314.7) and points allowed (19.6).
Gang Green does have Carter, who was the primary starter last season, will now take on more of a role in the offense. Also, expect the Jets to get Johnson involved more and promote Zonovan “Bam” Knight from the team’s practice squad.
Carter might not have Hall’s speed and size, but he is one of the Jets’ locker room leaders. He is also a versatile player, as he has 867 rushing yards and six touchdowns in two seasons with the team. Carter also has caught 56 passes for 476 yards.
“I prepare all the time like I’m the only back on the team, understanding that I’m not, which is totally fine,” Carter said. “I prepare myself for these games like that. I don’t think my progression will change, I will just be on the field a little bit more than I have been since the season started.
“It is not too much going to change for me, not from my perspective. I played with Javonte Williams in college, so it was something that I’m kind of used to. Being able to carry that is something that I’m very much capable of.
“I don’t mind either, but I hate my dog Breece got hurt and obviously praying for him.”
After being left in New Jersey and made inactive for Sunday’s game against the Broncos after he voiced his displeasure about his role in the offense, Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore has returned to the team. He is expected to practice Wednesday and play against the Patriots on Sunday.
Moore was absent from last Thursday’s practice as Saleh said he was dealing with a personal matter. Later that same day, news broke that Moore requested to be traded. But the Jets have said they have no plans to trade Moore.
A year after catching 43 passes for 538 yards and five touchdowns, Moore’s production has been down, as he has just 16 receptions for 203 yards in six games. With the status of Corey Davis, the Jets could use Moore now more than ever.
Davis left the game against the Broncos with a knee injury. Although his injury isn’t expected to be long-term, Davis is day-to-day as his status against the Patriots, according to Saleh, is “up in the air.”
“I just don’t think this is the time to alienate Elijah,” Saleh said. “He doesn’t need to be alienated from this organization.
“We love him, we think the world of him, we know what he can do from a football standpoint and how much he can help us and we just want to help him. We are not alienating or moving him off to the side.
“No one is trying to cut the corner when they see him walking. He is still part of this family and family embraces each other through adversity, we don’t reject.”