NY Jets’ cornerback Bless Austin will return this week after a three-game absence.
Austin last played in the team’s Week 9 loss to the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football, but it wasn’t in that game where he suffered an injury. Instead, Austin hurt his neck in the week of practice following the Week 10 bye.
Although he practiced on the Friday before Week 11, Austin was somewhat surprisingly placed on injured reserve just prior to the game. That left him sidelined for the Jets’ last three games further depleting an inexperienced secondary.
But after serving his minimum three-game absence, the Jets officially designated Austin to return from IR this week. And now it appears as though they’re set to activate him to the 53-man roster.
Head coach Adam Gase told reporters on Friday that Austin, who returned to practice on Wednesday, will start on Sunday. That means the Jets have two days to place him on the active roster before the game.
The NY Jets’ secondary will receive a much-needed boost with Bless Austin returning
Undrafted rookie cornerback Lamar Jackson has also started some games in recent weeks but will be demoted back to a reserve role upon Austin’s return meaning that he won’t get a chance to make up for his infamous blown coverage in last week’s game — at least not immediately.
It’s been a difficult season for Austin, a player many fans had high hopes for after a promising stretch of games late in his rookie season. After spending the first half of the year on the PUP list, Austin returned and immediately established himself as a young player to watch on defense.
The former Rutgers star played in seven games last season and managed to finish as Pro Football Focus‘ 27th-best cornerback. This year, however, he hasn’t found the same luck.
With a very poor 51.0 PFF grade, Austin currently ranks as the 99th cornerback in the NFL. He’ll look to turn his fortunes around with some better play over the final four games of the season.
The Jets will be very shorthanded this Sunday, but at least they’ll see the return of one of their top defensive backs.