Geno Smith likely will be without his two top receivers when the Jets travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons on Monday Night Football.
A source told Newsday Tuesday that Santonio Holmes is expected to miss at least a few weeks with a hamstring injury suffered against the Titans Sunday, the same day second-year wideout Stephen Hill was forced to leave the game with a concussion.
To shore up their depleted receiving corps, the Jets plan to sign former Bills wide receiver David Nelson, the source said.
Nelson, who went undrafted in 2010, has 94 career catches for 1,042 yards and eight touchdowns. He was with the Browns during training camp this year, but was cut on Aug. 31.
In a corresponding move, the Jets released veteran wideout Ben Obomanu, who was flagged three times (though one penalty was declined) in Sunday's loss to the Titans.
And now Smith, who has 11 of his team's 12 turnovers, will be forced to make do with a wide receiver corps currently in flux -- just like veteran quarterback Mark Sanchez did a year ago.
Holmes and Hill have accounted for 243 and 233 receiving yards, respectively, this season. The next closest receiver is tight end Kellen Winslow, who has 168 yards on 16 catches. Slot receiver Jeremy Kerley has 135 receiving yards on nine catches.
Continuity is key for any quarterback. But stability is even more important for a rookie who still is adjusting to NFL defenses and learning not to do too much with the football.
Smith turned the ball over four times on Sunday, spotting the Titans 28 points. Worse, he fumbled while running with one hand on the ball and surrendered a Titans touchdown when he tried to maneuver the ball behind his back near the end zone.
As for his two interceptions, the rookie said: "Both of them were tight windows, tight throws. All I can say from that is maybe have better ball placement if I'm going to make those throws, otherwise don't even try it. Don't even attempt it. Take a safe play, maybe check it down or go somewhere else with the ball, but not turn it over."
Ryan was seething after their 38-13 loss in Tennessee, but made it clear he's not turning away from the quarterback at this time. But Smith knows his coach will continue to lose patience if he doesn't make better decisions on a consistent basis.
But even with the prospect of playing in the Georgia Dome without his two best receivers, Smith is confident the Jets offense can improve.
"I think we have a chance to be a really good team," Smith said. "A lot falls on my shoulders as far as taking care of the ball, but it's something I have to do and I know that. I've been coached hard. No one wants to make those mistakes, and it's something that it has to stop now in order for us to get better as an offense and progress as a team."
Speaking specifically of Holmes and Hill, he said: "We'd love to have those guys, but guys have got to step up. Whoever is in there, they've got to step up. They've got to make plays and we expect them to."