FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — There is never a good time to lose an offensive lineman, but Sunday the Jets will miss starting right guard Brian Winters with an abdominal injury.
Coach Todd Bowles wasn’t sure who would replace Winters in the home opener against the Dolphins. Dakota Dozier and Brent Qvale shared first-team reps in practice this week. In the Week 2 loss at Oakland, Dozier replaced Winters after 14 offensive snaps and earned praise for his efforts. Qvale has played 22 offensive snaps this season, mainly as a tackle-eligible or tight end.
“Dakota is really good, really physical, strong in the weight room,” starting left guard James Carpenter said. “He’s physical, I’m sure he’s going to do really good. We all know each other, we’ve been playing with each other for three years now, Dakota’s been here, he’ll be fine.”
The interior of the line will be tested with the presence of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Last week against the Chargers, Suh had four tackles and two tackles for loss. He has the second most sacks by a defensive tackle (47) since 2010.
So not having Winters could be problematic.
“Anytime you lose your starting guard, it is a loss,” Bowles said Friday. “But guys have to step up, Dakota and Qvale had to step up and they will.”
Winters started a career-high 13 games last year before season-ending shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. The injury didn’t affect his free-agent status with the Jets. They signed him to a four-year, $29-million extension, with $15 million guaranteed.
The run game didn’t have a letdown after Winters was injured last week. The Jets rushed for 126 yards against the Raiders using a rotation of backs. Two of the bigger running plays came from rookie Elijah McGuire (11-yard run) and veteran starter Matt Forte (16-yard run).
The Jets are hopeful the running back rotation will lead to more success against the Dolphins’ run defense. Not having Winters adds concern but the Jets backs’ are confident they can make plays.
“It was real big playing in the preseason,” said McGuire, who had his first NFL carries last week and averaged 4.8 yards. “Now the coaches are trusting me in the regular season and I just want to contribute, get my feet wet.”
Notes: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson was limited in Friday’s practice with a sore shoulder and is listed as questionable. Fellow end Leonard Williams (wrist) was a full participant and will play. Tight end Will Tye missed practice with an illness and is questionable. TE Jordan Leggett (knee), Eric Tomlinson (elbow) didn’t practice and are ruled out. S Rontez Miles (eye socket) was limited but Bowles didn’t sound confident he’ll play him. Miles is listed as doubtful. WR Robby Anderson, who didn’t practice Wednesday and was limited Thursday (knee), was a full participant in practice and will play. Backup center Jonotthan Harrison is out of the concussion protocol and was a full participant in practice.