FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — When the Jets closed out practice Tuesday with a seven-on-seven drill, tight end Chris Herndon was already in the locker room being checked by trainers and Sam Darnold’s receivers were Josh Malone, Jehu Chesson and George Campbell.
Herndon experienced tightness in his chest and was evaluated by the Jets' doctors. Starting receivers Jamison Crowder and Chris Hogan and backup slot receiver Braxton Berrios were all pulled out of practice because of what the Jets called "tightness."
Crowder’s was in his lower leg. He said the medical staff was just being “cautious” and he should be fine. It wasn’t clear what Hogan and Berrios were experiencing. But it is clear that Jets have experienced a troubling number of injuries to key players, and they need to heal fast with the Sept. 13 opener at Buffalo creeping up.
“We’re not the only team,” Adam Gase said. “We just got to figure out ways to maneuver around practice schedule-wise, get everything we can out of these days, whether it’s a shorter practice or different kinds of situations or more individual or walk-through.
“Whatever we got to do to get us ready, keep trying to get healthy, get guys back out there and get ready heading into next week.”
If Herndon’s injury is serious that would be a big hit to the Jets’ offense.
Herndon played in only one game last year because of injuries and an NFL-issued four-game suspension. The Jets were excited to have him back, and are banking on Herndon being a big piece of the offense. He and Darnold have displayed good chemistry.
But Darnold needs to develop chemistry — and quickly — with his pass catchers.
Malone, Campbell, Chesson and newly signed Donte Moncrief, who participated in his first practice, were the only receivers available by the end of practice. Not exactly what anyone envisioned coming into camp.
Breshad Perriman remains out with knee swelling. Rookie Denzel Mims hasn’t practiced because of a hamstring injury. Vyncint Smith (core muscle surgery), Jeff Smith (shoulder) and Lawrence Cager (knee) are also sidelined.
“We got hit with a little injury bug in our room,” Crowder said. “I think we’ll be OK. A lot of guys are kind of turning corner and on the verge of bouncing back, so I think we’ll be fine.”
The Jets hope so.
Rookie running back La’Mical Perine is out with a low-ankle sprain. Gase said the Jets “got lucky there” when the MRI revealed no structural or ligament damage because it looked worse when Perine needed to be carted to the MetLife Stadium locker room on Sunday.
Safety Marcus Maye didn’t practice because of a calf issue that hampered him Sunday.
But the Jets were happy to get slot corner Brian Poole back. He’d been sidelined since suffering an extreme reaction to being dehydrated following the first practice. Poole was hospitalized, but he has slowly worked his way back. The Jets will continue to monitor him.
Gase said cornerback Pierre Desir is getting close to practicing for the first time with his new team. Desir has been out with a hamstring injury.
The Jets will continue to be cautious and not rush players back from injuries. “The whole thing is to make sure we progress them the right way,” Gase said, “so we don’t get them out there and all of a sudden we lose them again, because now we’re talking about it’s going to be a while before they get back.”
The multiple injuries at receiver have led to Le’Veon Bell being used more in the passing game. Bell always had that ability, but Gase admitted he has to do a better job of exploiting it. “I feel like we can find better ways to get him the ball, to help him create more explosive plays,” Gase said . . . Starting right guard Greg Van Roten (oblique) returned to practice after sitting out Sunday . . . Linebacker Patrick Onwuasor (knee) will be out 4-6 weeks, Gase said . . . Backup offensive lineman Chuma Edoga didn’t practice because of an illness that was not COVID-related.