Zach Wilson will be getting the ball from unfamiliar hands and delivering the ball to unfamiliar hands, all while trying to do the ultimate unfamiliar: beating Tom Brady.
The Jets quarterback again will be without a few of his top targets on Sunday against the Buccaneers, as Elijah Moore was ruled out Friday with a quad injury and Jamison Crowder is doubtful with a hurting calf.
Coach Robert Saleh said “hopefully” Moore, the second-round pick who will miss a fourth game, can return for the Jets’ season finale in Buffalo. Crowder, who was on the side of Friday’s practice stretching with trainers, is expected to sit for a second straight game.
Neither played last week, either, but this will be Wilson’s first game without Connor McGovern after the center suffered a season-ending MCL injury in Sunday’s win over the Jaguars.
Saleh said fifth-year lineman Dan Feeney will be the new center.
“Really felt like [McGovern] was coming onto his own here over the last half of the year,” the Jets head coach said over Zoom from Florham Park. “It’s going to be an adjustment for Feeney and the quarterback and the rest of the offensive line, but Feeney has been dying for this opportunity.”
Without his top options — including Corey Davis, who underwent core muscle surgery Dec. 7 — Wilson should have Braxton Berrios and Keelan Cole as his primary wideouts, with the confounding Denzel Mims as the No. 3. Despite the injuries to the group, the 2020 second-round pick has caught just eight passes for 133 yards this season.
Saleh said he is hoping tight end Tyler Kroft, who caught three passes last week, can clear COVID-19 protocols by Sunday. Kroft has been on the reserve list since Monday.
The Jets also likely will be without Tevin Coleman, who is in the protocols. The backup running back ran for 57 yards against Jacksonville.
Saleh overlapped with six-time Pro Bowler Richard Sherman both in Seattle (from 2011-13) and in San Francisco (2018-20).
Saleh “can’t say enough things” about the 33-year-old defensive back, whom Saleh considers a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
The Jets likely will not see Sherman on the field Sunday — he is doubtful with an Achilles injury — but maybe Saleh will find time to see Sherman off of it.
“A lot of people really misunderstand him because he’s so vocal,” Saleh said. “A lot of people mistake him for just a loudmouth player when really he’s probably the more well-spoken, smartest individuals you’ll ever meet.”
Saleh was optimistic defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, cornerback Bryce Hall and linebacker LaRoy Reynolds would clear the protocols by Sunday, but final tests were needed.
Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, who was limited a day earlier with a knee injury, was a full participant in practice.
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