Following a 17-12 loss that dropped the Jets to 0-3 in preseason, the talk in the Jets locker room wasn’t on their winless start or that their offense failed to score a touchdown again. Instead, it was about the rash of injuries that hit the team, particularly their precarious depth at tight end.
In the first quarter alone, the Jets saw tight end Dustin Keller and linebacker David Harris limp off the field and head into the locker room with injuries. Keller returned to the sideline in the second quarter but did not play. Then in the second quarter, tight end Josh Baker took a helmet to his knee and had to be carried off the field by two of the team’s trainers, an injury that was as bad as it looked.
Head coach Rex Ryan said that the injury to Baker was serious and the Jets tight end’s knee swelled up in size on the sidelines following the injury.
Harris limped out of the locker room with his left ankle wrapped, but he is expected to be ready at the start of the regular season.
In the third quarter, rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill left the field for several plays with an apparent hand injury, although the second-round pick did return to play. Then in the fourth quarter, Dedrick Epps was examined along the sidelines by the team doctor following a nasty collision.
“I was trying to block a man and he did a swing move over me, and as he was going around me he kind of pushed my helmet back. My facemask,” Epps told Metro. “I’m all right.”
Instead of heading straight to the locker room, Epps went to get an X-ray immediately after the game, “just to make sure everything’s all right.” The results showed no damage to his neck area.
The loss of Baker and the injuries to Keller and Epps were compounded by Tuesday’s concussion to tight end Jeff Cumberland. Although he did not play, Cumberland told Metro that he expects to play Week 1 against Buffalo and might even see some action on Thursday in the fourth and final preseason game.
“We’ll see, I hope I can play this week but I have to see how I do in practice first,” Cumberland said. “I’m supposed to be back on Tuesday.”
Nick Bellore, a linebacker last season who has seen some reps in the past week at fullback, did not play on offense against the Panthers but did get some action with the defense in the fourth quarter. Bellore told Metro that he “tweaked” his left shoulder in practice.
“The coaches wanted me to be careful with it,” Bellore said.
He said that he could make his debut at fullback this Thursday night in the preseason finale in Philadelphia.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.