On roster cut day, the Jets officially lost one of their most versatile weapons. They waived/injured hybrid fullback/tight end Josh Baker after he suffered a season-ending right ACL tear in the Jets' 17-12 preseason loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium.
Baker, 25, had impressed the coaching staff in training camp with his multifaceted skill set -- a necessary edge in a Tony Sparano offense that calls for multiple tight end sets and puts an emphasis on blocking ability.
The other 31 NFL teams have 24 hours to claim Baker off the waiver wire. If he goes unclaimed, Baker -- whom coach Rex Ryan called a "Swiss Army knife" because of his versatility -- will revert to the Jets' injured reserve list.
"He's a smart guy and a tough kid,'' Ryan said earlier this month.
With an offense struggling to score touchdowns, any injury is too many. For the third straight preseason game, the Jets failed to find their way into the end zone.
Their first drive of the game appeared promising after two quick passes of 24 and 20 yards from Mark Sanchez to Dustin Keller and Patrick Turner. But it was stalled by two ineffective runs by Shonn Greene, and the Jets had to settle for a field goal.
The Jets found themselves in the red zone three more times but wound up with a field goal each time. They led 32:01 to 27:59 in time of possession, amassed 290 total yards to the Panthers' 244, sacked Carolina's Cam Newton twice and picked off backup quarterback Derek Anderson. Still, the Jets couldn't convert near the end zone.
Despite those miscues, Sanchez isn't worried about the offense. "We just feel like there's good stuff right around the corner and we're steadily improving," he said. "And now we'll need to make a big jump for this Buffalo game [in Week 1] coming up, but we've got some time. Had a couple of injuries tonight, so hopefully these next few days, we'll be able to get guys healthy and be at full strength."
Backup tight end Jeff Cumberland suffered a concussion last Tuesday and hasn't practiced since. Keller -- who led the Jets in receptions (65) and receiving yards (815) last season -- injured a hamstring on his 24-yard catch in the first quarter. Keller did not return to the game, but his agent said in an email Monday that he will be OK.
Tight ends Keller, Baker and Cumberland were expected to be an integral part of Sparano's system. Now the Jets must turn to Dedrick Epps (who caught two passes, including a 22-yard strike from Tim Tebow in the fourth quarter).
Wayne Hunter, who was relieved of his starting right tackle duties last week and became a jumbo tight end, was traded to the Rams on Monday.
The Jets reduced their roster to 74 by waiving linebacker Damario Ambrose, wide receivers Stanley Arukwe and Wes Kemp and running back Jeremy Stewart. Kicker Josh Brown tweeted the news of his release Monday morning and the Jets later confirmed it.
Teams are required to cut their rosters to 53 by Friday night.