Coach Robert Saleh, speaking to reporters Monday, wouldn’t specify the nature of Davis’ injury, except to say it’s not a high ankle sprain. Saleh said they hope to have him back “around the bye week,” which is Week 6 for the Jets.
A trip to injured reserve seems inevitable. As long as Davis is on the initial 53-man roster after the final cutdown on Aug. 31, he will be eligible to return after three weeks on IR.
Davis was carted to the locker room in Saturday’s 23-14 win over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Two days earlier, in a joint practice with the Packers, defensive end Carl Lawson suffered a season-ending Achilles injury.
Lawson and Davis were two of the Jets’ biggest offseason acquisitions on defense. Lawson signed a three-year, $45 million contract; Davis, a former first-round pick of the Detroit Lions, signed for $5.5 million on a one-year deal.
“I don’t think it’s hard on me as much as it’s hard on them,” Saleh said of Davis and Lawson. “We’ll figure it out. Someone will step up and we’ll keep moving.”
The situation is dire at linebacker. The only proven player is middle linebacker C.J. Mosley, who has played only two games over the past two seasons due to injuries and an opt-out for COVID-19 reasons.
Rookie Jamien Sherwood, a fifth-round pick, will replace Davis on the strong side in their 4-3 front. The weakside starter will be Noah Dawkins (15 career games), who started Saturday, or sixth-round pick Hamsah Nasirildeen, who had been getting the first-team reps in training camp.
Compounding the concern: Sherwood and Nasirildeen are both new to the linebacker position. They played safety at Auburn and Florida State, respectively. The Jets drafted them with the idea of converting them to linebackers because of their speed and coverage ability.
Speaking of Sherwood, Saleh made a loose comparison to San Francisco 49ers All-Pro middle linebacker Fred Warner, whom he coached from 2018 to 2020. He meant from a size and position-switch standpoint.
“I want to make sure I say this right,” Saleh said. “I’m not comparing him to Fred yet — he’s got a long way to go — but Fred played nickel in college and was maybe 220, 225 his rookie year. [We] threw him in at Mike linebacker, started him Day 1 and he took off.”
Saleh called Sherwood an “unbelievable communicator” with excellent instincts and intelligence. The Jets also have veteran Blake Cashman, an oft-injured backup.
The Jets are working out free-agent linebackers and they’re exploring possible trades for a pass-rusher to replace Lawson, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday. Saleh sidestepped a question about a potential trade, saying he’s focused on the roster.
“There’s always going to be personnel discussions,” he said.
In other injury news, backup tackle Conor McDermott (knee) is expected to miss significant time. Backup quarterback Mike White (ribs), defensive end Ronnie Blair (hamstring), guard Alijah Vera-Tucker (pectoral strain) and wide receiver Elijah Moore (quadriceps) are day-to-day.