The NY Jets are dealing with injury and illness issues up and down their roster. But no position has been hit harder than safety. And going into Week 16, the team's safety depth chart is as thin as any position group on any roster in the NFL.
The Jets have just two healthy safeties on their active roster at the moment — Will Parks and Kai Nacua. Parks was claimed off waivers by the Jets four days ago. Nacua was signed off the San Francisco 49ers' practice squad two days ago.
Both players could be in line to start on Sunday despite being with the team for less than a week. That's the current state of the Jets' safety room.
But to fully gauge the Jets' issues at the safety position, we must first go back to the first week of the season when they were dealt their first major blow.
The NY Jets have had safety issues since Week 1
Free-agent signing and Week 1 starting free safety Lamarcus Joyner suffered an elbow injury nine snaps into his Jets career — one that would sideline him for the remainder of the season.
Already down one starting safety, the Jets were dealt another significant blow when Marcus Maye suffered a torn Achilles in Week 9, knocking him out for the rest of the year.
All of a sudden, the Jets were down both starting safeties just halfway through the year. Since then, the team has rotated a variety of players at the position, but two players have emerged as starting options in recent weeks — Ashtyn Davis and Elijah Riley.
Unfortunately, neither is expected to play on Sunday.
Riley sustained a concussion on a scary collision in Week 15 and has been ruled OUT for this week's game. As for Davis, he joins fellow safety Sharrod Neasman and well over a dozen teammates on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
All three safeties on the active roster last week will be unable to play this Sunday. That's how the Jets find themselves in this mess.
Aside from Parks and Nacua, the Jets could turn to practice squad safety Elijah Benton who joined the team just a little over two weeks ago. There's also rookie Jason Pinnock who has seen time at safety in practice this season.
The Jets declined to say who would start at safety this week. If I had to guess, I'd expect Parks and Pinnock to get the start, but it's impossible to say.
Parks is a six-year NFL veteran who even appeared in a game with the Miami Dolphins earlier this month. Meanwhile, Pinnock has at least been on the roster this season and the Jets have been training him to transition to safety. This could be his opportunity.
As always, we'll have to wait until Sunday to see exactly who the Jets trot out at safety. But needless to say, this is a dire situation for Gang Green.