Jets’ receiver depth, Keelan Cole up in air before opener

The Jets could be down two wide receivers on Sunday against the Panthers when they kick off their 2021 season. Jamison Crowder, the team’s leading receiver each of the last two years, was ruled out, as expected, and newcomer Keelan Cole is questionable after not practicing on Friday.

Crowder is still on the reserve/COVID-19 list after testing positive for the virus last Friday, while Cole suffered a knee injury in practice on Thursday and was limited that day.

“It’s going to go down to the wire,” head coach Robert Saleh said of Cole.

That could mean an increased role for second-year wideout Denzel Mims, who got off to a slow start in training camp, but picked it up as the summer went on.

“He’s gotten a lot better and he continues to get better every day and I love his intent and the way he’s going about his business, to find versatility and knowing every single spot instead of being stagnant at one, which is difficult for a receiver,” Saleh said. “So, he’s been good, his mind is in the right spot.”

Free-agent addition Corey Davis and rookie second-round pick Elijah Moore are expected to start at receiver.

Keelan Cole

Saleh declined to reveal who will start at cornerback alongside Bryce Hall, but it is apparent Hall has impressed the coaching staff. Saleh raved about the second-year defensive back’s work habits, consistency and football IQ.

“He’s going to be in position to make plays and he’s not going to get you beat,” Saleh said. “We trust that he’s going to be in position to make sure that the ball’s not getting behind him and he’s constantly contesting things that are in front of him.”

As part of what Saleh said will be a Friday tradition, he didn’t wear Jets gear to the podium for his press conference. Instead, he donned a gray shirt with a blue-and-white Bulldog mascot on it, representing Passaic County Technical Institute. Every Friday, Saleh plans to wear a different high school’s shirt.

“The girls are the first varsity flag football team in the history of New Jersey to win a championship,” he said. “We’re going to recognize a local high school football team every week for doing something pretty cool. So, they’re the first.”

Safety Sharrod Neasman (hamstring) was ruled out and running back La’Mical Perine (foot) is questionable. Perine practiced fully for the first time this week on Friday. Neaman’s absence leaves the Jets with just three active safeties: Marcus Maye, Lamarcus Joyner and Sheldrick Redwine. They may add a safety from the practice squad, Saleh said.

The Jets signed offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher to the practice squad. A fifth-round pick by Washington in 2019, the former Alabama lineman was in training camp this year with the Eagles.


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