By Tyson Rauch
On Sunday, the New York Jets (3-3) take on the New England Patriots (5-1) in one of the marquee division match-ups of the day. There are many storylines heading into this game, but the biggest one has to be the injury issues that both teams are facing.
Another blow to the Patriots run defense
New England’s 24th ranked run defense suffered another blow this week as linebacker and leading tackler Jerod Mayo was lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Mayo, a team captain, will be tough for the Patriots to replace as they are already without defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. Look for the New York Jets to try and take advantage of the New England injury situation by utilizing the ground and pound rushing attack. Gang Green will use the platoon of Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, and Alex Green in a variety of formations to keep the Patriots’ defense off balance.
Aqib Talib, the Patriots best defensive back, returned to practice on Friday after sitting out all week with a hip flexor issue. Talib’s status remains questionable for Sunday and he could end up being a game-time decision. The Jets will look to take advantage of Aqib Talib’s injury, but their wide receiver group has been decimated by injuries. Santonio Holmes has been ruled out with a hamstring injury, while Clyde Gates has been lost for the season with a shoulder injury. Recently acquired receiver David Nelson has been limited in practice leaving Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, Michael Campbell, and the newest Jet Josh Cribbs as healthy options for the Jets.
The return of Gronk
The Patriots received some encouraging news on Friday as tight end Rob Gronkowski obtained medical clearance from his doctors. Gronkowski’s availability for Sunday remains unknown but he could be a very valuable target in the red zone for Tom Brady.
Rookie defensive back Dee Milliner will be returning to the field on Sunday for the Jets. Milliner has missed the last 3 games for Gang Green and will give the defense some much- needed depth. Kyle Wilson will also be available to play on Sunday as he passed his concussion test.
Ruled Out For Sunday
WR Santonio Holmes (Hamstring), WR Greg Salas (knee)
Full Participation In Practice
S Jaiquawn Jarrett (knee), WR Jeremy Kerley (back), RB Bilal Powell (neck), CB Darrin Walls (shoulder)
For more Jets news and updates, visit Jets Central.
Tyson Rauch is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.