The NY Jets were unable to escape spring practices unscathed as starting safety Chuck Clark suffered a serious knee injury during one of the final days of OTAs.
A second opinion confirmed that Clark had, in fact, suffered a torn ACL that would sideline him for the entire 2023 season. The Jets acquired Clark in a trade from the Baltimore Ravens in March of this year with the expectation that he would serve as an upgrade over the departing Lamarcus Joyner.
Now, Clark, who has never missed an NFL game due to injury in his entire career, is out for the upcoming season. That means the Jets will hope to see a number of players step up in his absence.
From the obvious to the not-so-obvious, here are four players who the Jets need to step up following Clark's injury.
4. Sauce Gardner/D.J. Reed, CB, NY Jets
Despite the Jets' struggles at safety last season, the team still had one of the best secondaries in football, and that was largely due to their star-studded cornerback duo of Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed.
Gardner earned first-team All-Pro honors as a rookie as perhaps the best cornerback in the NFL, while the often-overlooked Reed was likely a borderline top-10 cornerback in his own right.
The hope was that the Jets would offer them some help in the defensive backfield this offseason, but with Clark now sidelined, the safety position is a significant uncertainty once again.
The Jets are going to need Gardner and Reed to be at their best again in 2023 to mask any issues the team might have at safety. After all, Clark was probably the best safety on the Jets' roster.