FLORHAM PARK, N.J — The health status of starting defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson has forced the Jets to discuss shutting him down.
Wilkerson is dealing with an injured toe and a sprained AC joint in his shoulder. He hasn’t practiced in two weeks but played last Sunday against the Patriots. He’s listed as questionable for Sunday’s game at Miami.
“We gave it a thought. We discuss it day-by-day, week-by-week, and go from there,” coach Todd Bowles said. “We don’t make anybody play if he doesn’t want to play from an injury standpoint. It’s been thought of, but he’s been good enough to play on Sunday thus far. We’ll see this Sunday and go from there.”
Wilkerson, the highest-paid Jet in terms of base salary at $14.7 million a year, has no sacks or quarterback hits and only one quarterback hurry this season. Bowles and defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers nevertheless have complimented him on his play.
Bowles became irked this week when asked what specifically Wilkerson does. If anything, he is needed to play strongly against the run, but he has only 21 tackles this season. He also doesn’t have the burst needed off the line or the hand speed to combat opposing linemen in the passing attack.
One school of thought is that sitting Wilkerson for a game might give the shoulder and toe some extra time to heal, but he wants to play, believing that the shoulder issue won’t go away just by missing one or two games.
Wilkerson tried to wear a harness under his shoulder pads to give him some relief, but it proved to be troublesome. He wears an undershirt with some small padding under his shoulder pads.
Even if Wilkerson continues to be held out of practice but displays in pregame warmups that he can function, he likely will play. In Friday’s practice, he jogged onto the practice field with a helmet for the first time all week.
“You want to see everybody practice from a chemistry standpoint,” Bowles said. “Mo has been in the league a while. He’s smart. He knows what he’s doing. He’s played in this scheme almost three years now. He’s capable of playing.”
Notes & quotes: Tight end Jordan Leggett will miss Sunday’s game with a swollen knee. Leggett will undergo further tests to determine if he needs surgery . . . For the first time since Week 3, the Jets will have all three of their running backs available. Starter Matt Forte (toe) and backup Bilal Powell (calf) have dealt with injuries the last three weeks, but they’ll be available along with Elijah McGuire.