If there's one position the NY Jets can't afford to lose a player at, it's offensive tackle. Unfortunately, a recent injury suffered by left tackle Duane Brown has a chance to completely derail the team's season.
Brown was surprisingly held out of Wednesday's practice with a shoulder injury, one that was not reported by head coach Robert Saleh when he spoke to the media earlier in the day.
The hope was that Brown would shake it off and return on Thursday, however, that wasn't the case. Brown was once again absent from practice and Saleh told reporters that he was being "being evaluated."
ESPN's Rich Cimini described the update as "ominous" and it seems like there's a very good chance Brown won't be able to suit up for Week 1. The question then becomes, just how serious is Brown's injury and how much time might he miss?
The NY Jets are in trouble if the Duane Brown injury is serious
The Jets signed Brown last month following a season-ending injury to third-year offensive tackle Mekhi Becton. Brown was expected to step in as the Jets' Week 1 left tackle with George Fant moving back to right tackle, although this injury could change everything.
The only other offensive tackles on the active roster are veteran Conor McDermott, who has been nursing an ankle injury of his own, and rookie fourth-round pick Max Mitchell.
If Brown can't play Week 1, the Jets have two routes they could take. They could insert McDermott into the starting lineup at left tackle or they could opt to move Fant back to the blindside while Mitchell assumes the starting right tackle job.
Fant played very well at left tackle last season and was expected to start there this year before the Brown signing. It's never ideal to shuffle around positions on the offensive line, but moving Fant back to left tackle might be the Jets' best strategy, assuming they're comfortable with Mitchell starting.
Brown has appeared in every game in three of the last four seasons. Even at the age of 37, he's been a very durable player in recent years. Still, you have to question the Jets' decision to rely on McDermott and Mitchell as their backups heading into Week 1.
If Brown is forced to miss significant time, the Jets might be forced to dip back into the free-agent pool in search of another veteran addition. Relying on McDermott and Mitchell could be a recipe for disaster.
The Jets are holding their breath that Duane Brown's injury is not as serious as it seems, but the early signs aren't promising.