Jets starting inside linebacker Avery Williamson tore his right ACL in Thursday night’s preseason game and is out for the season, a league source confirmed Friday.
Williamson suffered the injury late in the first half of a 22-10 win over the Falcons when cornerback Tevaughn Campbell collided with his teammate’s knee with 3:52 left in the second quarter.
It’s still puzzling why Williamson was in the game with mostly the second-team defense. He was the Jets’ leading tackler last season.
“Everyone is slotted a certain amount of snaps,” coach Adam Gase said when asked about Williamson being in the game with mostly subs and players trying to make the team. “The last two weeks, he’s just stayed in there a little longer. It’s like that on offense, but you might not notice. [Guard] Tom Compton stayed in a little longer than the rest of that [first] group. So, you know, that’s just how we roll it. Some guys will play a little longer than others.”
Williamson was in for 30 snaps, twice the amount that starters Jamal Adams and C.J. Mosley played in the Jets’ second preseason game.
When he got hurt, Williamson was in coverage on running back Brian Hill. Matt Ryan threw the ball to Hill in the end zone and Coleman ran into Williamson’s knee. He stayed down on one knee and called for the trainers before eventually walking off on his own. Tests revealed that he tore his ACL.
Williamson, who was calling the defensive plays at that point in the game, had that role as middle linebacker for the Jets last year after signing a three-year, $22 million contract. He led the Jets with 120 tackles and had three sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery last season.
Williamson, who had a sack in Thursday night’s game, was adjusting to his new position, playing weak-side linebacker this season. The Jets signed Mosley, a four-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker with the Ravens, to be their defensive play-caller and leader.
The Jets seemed stout in the middle with Mosley and Williamson, who have been tackling machines in their careers. Neville Hewitt, James Burgess, rookie Blake Cashman and Anthony Wint are next on the inside linebacker depth chart.
Hewitt, a hard hitter, had five tackles against the Falcons and could be first in line to replace Williamson. Burgess had a 28-yard pick-6 and Wint had a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Cashman did not play.
New general manager Joe Douglas should be very busy with Week 1 of the regular season just over two weeks away. The Jets also have been dealing with injuries on the offensive line and at cornerback, but they’re not as serious as Williamson’s injury.
The NFL Network was the first to report the severity of Williamson’s injury.