The New York Jets will have a strong defensive front in due time, but the start of the season could be questionable for the team. Injuries and suspensions are a big factor as the team heads into the new year and they simply cannot afford any more issues as depth becomes a concern. With Sheldon Richardson prepared to severe a suspension and Muhammad Wilkerson limited after a hamstring injury, the health scare to Leonard Williams had every Jets fan holding their breath.
According to Rich Cimini of ESPN, Williams knee injury is not as serious as originally assumed. The first-round draft pick reportedly suffered a muscle strain behind the knee after it was originally thought the issue was much worse. An MRI showed no structural damage to Williams and now he will have two weeks to get healthy before the season opener against the Cleveland Browns.
The Jets need Williams healthy. With Richardson out for an undetermined amount of time, the rookie will be an immediate starter Week 1. The Jets have been pleased with his progress on the field as he will work in tandem with Wilkerson who made his season debut over the weekend. Wilkerson had been dealing with a hamstring injury and missed most of training camp and the preseason. However, the defensive end saw playing time and is now viewed as a starting option for Week 1.
The defense could be what gets the Jets through the season. As questions remain about Ryan Fitzpatrick and the offensive fire power in New York, the potentially elite defense could save games. Antonio Cromartie is finally showing life after a slow start to the season. As a result, the team cut Javier Arenas which could save the job of Dee Milliner who sits out with an injury.
According to the New York Post, Milliner is not expected to be released as a roster cut, but no one would be shocked if it happens. Right now, the Jets are moving forward with Darrelle Revis, Cromartie and Buster Skrine as their best options. Milliner is fighting for a roster spot while being injured in the process. At the least, they could dangle the cornerback in a trade.
If the Jets can get other players like Calvin Pryor and Marcus Gilchrist to step up, the defense will be a solid unit in New York. Pryor is aware he is on the hot seat and stressed that he will prove plenty of people wrong this year which will be welcomed by the Jets.
"I think it was kind of good that I went through the struggles that I went through last year," Pryor said, via the New York Daily News. "So I can learn from them. I do know I want to get to a Pro-Bowl caliber level. But I know that it's going to take time and I just have to go out there and prove it on the field."