By Tyson Rauch
The New York Jets (3-2) surprising start has been spearheaded by their aggressive and talented defense. That defense, which is ranked second against the run and 13th against the pass, has been dealt a couple significant blows this week as two valuable players will be missing time due to injuries. Will Rex Ryan be forced to come up with a new game plan for the rested Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4)?
Barnes out for the year
On Wednesday, the New York Jets found out that the organization lost one of the best pass rushers, Antwan Barnes, to a season-ending knee injury. Barnes, a pass-rushing specialist for Gang Green, had two sacks on the season along with a team leading 12 quarterback hits.
There will be a huge void in the Jets defense as Barnes is an explosive playmaker that does an excellent job pursuing the quarterback off the edge. Gang Green re-signed linebacker Ricky Sapp for some depth at the position and will look to Quinton Coples and Garrett McIntyre to play additional reps.
Coples has all of the tools to adequately replace Barnes, it is just a matter of putting it altogether on the football field. Quinton, the Jets first round pick in 2012, has been relatively silent this season (0 sacks) since returning from an ankle injury. If Coples is unable to raise his level of play the Jets may have to look to the free agent market for some help.
Cromartie a game-time decision
Antonio Cromartie suffered a hyperextended knee in practice and will be a game-time decision on Sunday. This could be a major blow to the Jets pass defense as Cromartie is the team’s best cover corner. If Antonio is unable to play, Kyle Wilson will fill in with Isaiah Trufant taking over the nickel back position.
Rookie to miss another game
Dee Milliner will miss his second game in a row with a hamstring injury. Darrin Walls, who had a solid performance against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night, will replace the rookie in the starting lineup. Milliner’s absence along with Cromartie’s injury has made the Jets once deep secondary very thin. Look for Ellis Lankster to see increased playing time.
Holmes out for Sunday
New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes has been ruled out for Sunday with a hamstring injury. Holmes will be missing his second game in a row and will be replaced by a combination of David Nelson, Clyde Gates, and Stephen Hill.
Ruled Out For Sunday
WR Santonio Holmes (foot, hamstring), CB Dee Milliner (hamstring), TE Kellen Winslow listed as doubtful (knee)
Limited Participation In Practice
WR Edmond Gates (knee), RB Chris Ivory (hamstring), S Jaiquawn Jarrett (knee), WR David Nelson (hamstring), CB Darrin Walls (shoulder)
Full Participation In Practice
S Antonio Allen (finger), G Willie Colon (knee), DT Kenrick Ellis, RB Mike Goodson (illness), DT Sheldon Richardson (shoulder)
For more Jets news and updates, visit Jets Central.
Tyson Rauch is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on aExaminer.com.