New York Jets are running out of bodies at linebacker
Going into 2021, the New York Jets‘ linebacker unit wasn’t expected to be a massive strength, but it wasn’t poised to be a weakness, either.
With former Pro Bowler C.J. Mosley finally returning to the team coupled with the additions of free-agent Jarrad Davis and two draft picks (Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen), the hope was that head coach Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich could turn the group into a solid unit.
Unfortunately, the injury bug bit the Jets early and has been following them around all season. The linebacker position has turned into a revolving door.
Davis, who was projected to be the MIKE heading into the season, injured his ankle in the preseason and has yet to make his way back onto the field. He could return from injured reserve soon, but the timetable is still unknown.
Nasirildeen, a sixth-round pick that transitioned from safety to linebacker, has been sidelined since early October with a knee injury. He started Week 1 as the team’s WILL linebacker. Like Davis, he could return soon from injured reserve.
Mosley hurt his hamstring prior to the bye week in the Jets’ Week 5 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. He shifted over to the MIKE when Davis got injured and has been everything Jets fans expected when he received a massive contract in 2019. The team hopes he can return in Week 8 against the Cincinnati Bengals, but you never know with soft tissue injuries. His status for Sunday remains unknown.
Quincy Williams, one of Joe Douglas‘ waiver pickups after preseasons cuts, has started five games and been the definition of a home run or strikeout player. He was concussed in the Week 7 matchup against the Patriots and is questionable for Sunday. Either way, the coaching staff needs to be wary of putting him on the field in certain situations considering his proneness to mistakes this season.
Sherwood, another rookie making the conversion from safety, has been the coaching staff’s sweetheart thus far in his rookie season. As the backup MIKE linebacker, Sherwood showcased his smarts early on and impressed everyone around him. Unfortunately, the fifth-round pick tore his Achilles this past Sunday and is out for the rest of the season.
Blake Cashman has never been able to stay on the field long enough for the Jets to find out who he is. Now in his third season, Cashman has appeared in only 14 games. He was placed on injured reserve this week with a groin injury.
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With four linebackers in question for Sunday and two out for an extended period of time, Douglas brought in four linebackers for workouts on Tuesday.
New York worked out linebackers Shaquem Griffin, Justin March-Lillard, LaRoy Reynolds, and Corey Thompson. Guard Rashaad Coward was also in for a workout.
Jets worked out Rashaad Coward, Shaquem Griffin, Justin March-Lillard, LaRoy Reynolds, Corey Thompson
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) October 26, 2021
The Jets wound up signing LaRoy Reynolds to their practice squad.
Additionally, we've signed LB LaRoy Reynolds to the practice squad.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) October 26, 2021
Reynolds is a 30-year old NFL veteran with 115 games and seven starts under his belt. He has played for seven NFL teams, most recently the Atlanta Falcons in 2020. There, he played under Jeff Ulbrich. Reynolds also played under Robert Saleh with the Jaguars and 49ers.
New England, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Chicago have also been home to Reynolds.
The Virginia product has primarily been a special teams ace, playing more than 50% of his team’s defensive snaps in just one of his 118 career games and playing more than 10% of the defensive snaps in only 18 others.
Depending on the progress of the Jets’ banged-up linebackers – Davis, Mosley, Nasirildeen, and Williams – Reynolds has a chance to be elevated from the practice squad and tossed into the fray right away. The Jets will host the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday at MetLife Stadium (1 p.m. ET, CBS).