FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Jets wide receiver Quincy Enunwa will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a neck injury in Sunday’s season-opening loss to Buffalo.
It is the second time in three seasons Enunwa has sustained a season-ending neck injury. He missed the entire 2017 season after hurting his neck in training camp that year.
Adam Gase said he didn’t know whether Enunwa would require surgery or if this was related to his past injury. Gase said Enunwa was still seeing specialists and undergoing tests.
“I feel for him from the aspect that he’s going through something like this,” Gase said before practice Wednesday. “It’s not something that’s easy for guys that have been doing this their whole life.”
Losing Enunwa is a major hit for the Jets’ offense that is already without tight end Chris Herndon, who is serving a four-game suspension. Enunwa caught only one pass Sunday for minus-4 yards. But he’s been a valuable receiver when healthy and was expected to be a big part of Gase’s offense.
“You lose a starter,” Gase said before practice. “You lose a guy that’s a veteran player that’s been through a lot, that’s done a lot of good things. He’s done everything you possibly could ask a guy to do. He tries to do everything right. The way he plays, everything was violent. He gives everything he has.”
The Jets signed Enunwa to a four-year, $36 million extension in December. He has talked about playing differently and a little less physically to try and stay on the field. Enunwa has missed 25 games since the start of the 2015 season.
Josh Bellamy, who played for Gase in Chicago when he was offensive coordinator, likely will become more involved. The Jets could also line up Ty Montgomery as a wide receiver.
“We’re lucky that we have some of the guys that we have that are able to do multiple things, so we’re able to move some pieces around,” Gase said. “There’s certain routes that are for [Enunwa] that no one else really does. He does a lot of the dirty work that nobody really notices. Some of those things we won’t be able to do.”
Enunwa’s situation also explains why the Jets acquired veteran receiver Demaryius Thomas from the Patriots for a 2021 sixth-round pick. Gase coached Thomas for five years in Denver, and believes he will be able to step in and help the Jets immediately.
Gase said Thomas should be able to play in Monday night’s game against the Browns if he’s healthy. He was at practice Wednesday
but didn’t participate. The deal became official just before practice started.
“He can step in and be a huge addition and a huge weapon for our offense for sure,” receiver Jamison Crowder said.
Thomas missed most of the preseason for New England recovering from a torn Achilles. But he caught two touchdown passes in the Patriots’ last preseason game. Thomas was inactive for the Patriots’ season-opening game Sunday night.
“We’ll just see how he feels, see where he’s at,” Gase said. “He looked good in that last preseason game that we watched. He seems like he’s in a good place. We’ll see how it goes. He knows the offense. He can easily be plugged in. He still remembers everything.”
Thomas made three Pro Bowls while Gase was in Denver. He caught 203 passes for 3,049 yards and 25 touchdowns the two years Gase was offensive coordinator. But that was 2013 and 2014. Thomas is not the same player, but Gase believes he can be effective and productive.
“Smart, versatile, get the ball in his hands,” Gase said. “He’s a big man that can run. He’s not 24 anymore. I’m not stupid in that aspect. I understand that there’s an aging process here. He’s still a big man that can run really well for a guy his size.”
Gase said the surprising deal with New England came together after general manager Joe Douglas initiated talks with the Patriots.
“We looked at it as we added another guy and some depth,” Gase said. “So we took a shot, with a guy that we knew.”
Jets add ex-Bengals lineman. The Jets claimed former Bengals defensive lineman Jordan Willis and placed Enunwa on IR. Willis, a third-round pick in 2017, played in 32 games the last two years and recorded 45 tackles and two sacks. The Bengals waived him Monday.