This is how bad the Jets’ cornerback situation has gotten: Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams is offering to move there.
“If they need me to go to corner, I’ll go to corner,” Adams said Monday. “I’m dead serious.”
That is not happening … yet.
But the Jets sustained another injury at cornerback in Monday’s practice and the position that was a concern when camp began is fast approaching DEFCON 1. Kyron Brown left practice with a hamstring injury one day after replacing Trumaine Johnson in the starting lineup after Johnson suffered a hamstring injury in practice. Though it isn’t as if Brown is a proven commodity; he’s an undrafted rookie out of Akron.
The Jets’ first-team cornerbacks on Monday were: the often-doubted Darryl Roberts and Arthur Maulet — a third-year player with limited experience in two seasons with the Saints — on the outside and Brian Poole — who’s in his first season with the Jets after three seasons with the Falcons — in the slot.
Coach Adam Gase put the best possible spin on the situation, but this is the type of problem that can sink a season.
“I guess I don’t look at it like that,” Gase said. “I look at it as Trumaine is down right now, this is a great opportunity for a lot of guys. Like somebody has a chance to step up and make a name for themselves. Somebody has a chance to get in with that first defense, go against our wide receivers, go against our offense and Sam [Darnold] and those guys and see if a guy can play at that high level.”
Cornerback was arguably the weakest position before Johnson went down. Now, Johnson could miss the start of the regular season. Gase would not go that far on Monday, only saying Johnson is “week-to-week,” but the regular season is less than four weeks away and a hamstring injury for a cornerback is significant.
“He wants to be out there when we get going in the regular season, for sure,” Gase said. “To me, he’ll do everything he can. Sometimes it’s how the body reacts, how does the rehab go, how does the strength and conditioning go. You can have a setback, so if things go smooth, hopefully we get him back.”
Gase was asked if Johnson could miss months.
“I don’t think it’s going to be months, but I mean, we’ll see,” he said. “We’re going to be week-to-week right now. It’s all going to be about how his body responds to the rehab and the strength guys get a hold of him and stuff.”
The Jets did little to improve the position this offseason when former general manager Mike Maccagnan was in charge. They re-signed Roberts and signed Poole to replace Buster Skrine. In the draft, they took only Bless Austin in the sixth round, but he is recovering from an injury and is not a short-term answer.
Now, new GM Joe Douglas is left to scour the waiver wire or possibly find a trade partner, but good cornerbacks are found in March (early free agency) and April (early in the draft), not August or September.
Two of Douglas’ former teams — the Eagles and the Ravens — have depth at cornerback, so they are possible trade partners, or Douglas could claim players they cut when rosters are trimmed.
“That’s what personnel guys get paid for, they spend all their time doing that, going through waiver wires, going through to see about trades,” Gase said. “They evaluate that stuff. Who we have on the roster and the guys that we’re working with out there, those are the guys that we’re playing with and until somebody tells us different.”
In the meantime, it is on defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to get creative. People in the NFL like to joke that the third “G” in Williams’ first name stands for genius. We’re about to find out.
“Gregg will welcome that,” Gase said. “He loves it. He’d love to be able scheme things up. He’ll figure it out, that’s why he’s been doing this as long as he has.”