The NY Jets have been patiently awaiting the return of left tackle Duane Brown this season after he was placed on the injured reserve with a hip injury following the team's Week 2 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
The assumption has been that Brown would return in the near future, especially after the Jets designated him to return from the IR earlier this month. However, that might not actually be the case.
ESPN's Rich Cimini reported on Tuesday that Brown's return is "not trending in the right direction." To make matters worse, the Jets have until Thursday to activate him from the IR. If not, he will be out for the remainder of the season.
There's no other way around it — the Jets seemingly messed this one up. They designated Brown to return too early, and now there's a chance he won't play again this season.
The NY Jets might not get Duane Brown back from injury
When a team designates a player to return from the injured reserve, it opens up a three-week window for that player to be officially activated to the 53-man roster. If that window passes without the player being activated, the player reverts to the season-ending injured reserve.
Of course, it's incredibly rare to see a situation like that occur. The three-week window is essentially just in place to prevent teams from abusing the rule and returning players to practice early.
That's what makes this so frustrating. When the Jets designated Brown to return, they must have believed that the five-time Pro Bowler would be ready to return within the next three weeks. If not, they obviously would have waited.
Well, they were wrong. Cimini's report suggests that Brown will not be ready to be activated before Thursday. Now, the Jets can still activate Brown and simply make him inactive on game day. That would be the smart move if they believe he's still close to returning.
If not, and Brown reverts to the season-ending IR, that would indicate a massive blunder on the part of the Jets. That falls on team doctors, the coaching staff, and even the front office.
This is an especially concerning development given that starting left tackle Mekhi Becton suffered an ankle injury in Week 11 that is likely to keep him sidelined for at least a week. Brown would have been a perfect fill-in for the injured Becton.
Instead, if both Brown and Becton are unable to play, the Jets will likely turn to rookie fourth-round pick Carter Warren, who struggled mightily this past Sunday, allowing a team-high five pressures despite not even playing the entire game.
Brown has been a full participant in practice each of the last few weeks, but for whatever reason, there is serious concern that he will not be activated prior to Thursday. If that happens, the Jets have a lot of questions to answer.