Jets head coach Robert Saleh said offensive tackle Duane Brown will be a game-time decision on Sunday afternoon, and no one is speaking in definite terms, but make no mistake: Brown looks very much on course to face the Dolphins in his Jets debut.
“Everything’s been good,” Brown said following practice Friday. “As of now, I would imagine I’ll be good to go, so far.”
There is some wiggle room in that statement, should the shoulder injury that has kept Brown off the field thus far this season prove too much to handle in the hours before kickoff. But Brown was a full participant in practice, pads and all, on Thursday and Friday, and it sounds as though things were successful.
“This game means everything to me,” Brown said. “I came here with high expectations for myself and what I could contribute to the team. Being sidelined the first four games was tough. A chance to go back out there and do my thing with the guys means everything to me.”
It has been a turbulent couple of months for Brown and the Jets’ offensive line. The 37-year-old former All-Pro was signed in August after Mekhi Becton suffered a season-ending knee injury. Brown, however, suffered a shoulder injury in practice ahead of the season opener. And due to health issues elsewhere along the offensive line, the Jets have struggled to put together a consistent five-man group through the first four weeks of the season.
Right tackles Max Mitchell and George Fant are still dealing with injuries — Mitchell was not a full participant in practice and Fant is on IR — so it’s unlikely that the group the Jets play against the Dolphins will be the group they will use for the rest of the season. But if Brown does indeed return, it will be a notable step toward getting to that point.
“I didn’t want to wait any more days,” Brown said in response to a question about whether he would still be returning if the rest of the line was healthy. “Again, credit to the line. Everyone shuffling around, guys stepping in and contributing. They made the pressure not as hard to try to get back immediately. But I had my mind set, as soon as that four weeks is up, to be able to come back.”
Brown has been in the league since 2008, when he started for a Texans squad that featured quarterback Matt Schaub throwing to Andre Johnson. He said that, at least this early in the season, he has never seen a line feature so many moving parts.
“It’s not easy,” he said, “to not know if you’re gonna play or not and then get caught up to play. But that’s a credit to the guys, the versatility they have and everyone, credit to the coaching staff. Getting everyone going, no matter what, to be able to play at a high level.”
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