Jets' Robert Saleh explains timetable for Jarrad Davis' return, who might step up in his place

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Jarrad Davis during preseason game in green and white uniform
Jarrad Davis during preseason game in green and white uniform

Not even close to the regular season, Jets head coach Robert Saleh has seen his top two defensive free agent signings out to start the year.

Carl Lawson will be out for the season after suffering an Achilles injury during joint practice with the Green Bay Packers last week. And during the preseason contest against the green and yellow, linebacker Jarrad Davis was carted off the field with an ankle injury.

But, while Lawson is gone for the entire season, Saleh said Davis won't have the same fate.

"It’s going to take him into the season but we expect him back sometime around the bye week," Saleh told reporters on Monday via Zoom.

It's still a tremendous loss for his defense, as Davis was pegged to start next to veteran LB C.J. Mosley Week 1 against the Panthers. Lawson was also having a tremendous camp and expected to help the pass rush off the edge, creating disruption week in and week out.

But the NFL is about surviving these types of losses and adapting. And by adapting, we mean having depth step up in their place.

In Davis' case specifically, Saleh has a candidate to do just that: rookie LB Jamien Sherwood.

"Sherwood has been doing a really nice job," he said. "We’re still expecting him to slide in and pick up where Jarrad left off. He’s been having a really nice camp and it’s an opportunity for him to step in and take on a bigger role."

Sherwood, a fifth-round pick out of Auburn, is making his transition from safety to linebacker in the NFL -- something that isn't uncommon these days. He has the tackling prowess and has impressed his head coach so far at camp.

And though he won't necessarily compare him to one of the best linebackers he's ever coached, he sees a little of a 49ers legend in the young backer.

"When we drafted – I want to make sure I’m saying this right – I’m not comparing him to Fred. He’s got a long way to go [but] Fred Warner," Saleh said carefully. "Fred Warner played nickel in college and was maybe 220, 225 [pounds] his rookie year. Threw him in there at MIKE linebacker, started day one and he took off. Sherwood has a tremendous mindset to him. He’s extremely smart, he’s got great command of the playbook already. He's got respect of his peers.

"For him, there’s going to be some hiccups along the way but we feel with reps he’s only going to get better.”

Saleh added that some of the best he's ever coached had to "swim" through everything they learned from the jump in their rookie seasons. But he said Sherwood has "a tremendous process" that allows him to be fully prepared to do his job on gameday, and that's just something you don't see from a rookie at this early stage.

But nonetheless, the Jets are fortunate to have someone like Sherwood who can hold things down before Davis returns. And who knows? Maybe there are some Warner flashes in his game throughout the start of the season.

Saleh, though, won't ever feel sorry for himself for losing crucial players due to injury. It's a hard truth in football, one he's had to deal with in the past on multiple occasions.

"I feel terrible for the two that are injured. Talked about it after the game, Jarrad has been nothing but a professional since he’s walked in here. Same thing with Carl. The amount of work that they’ve put in, how much they’ve studied, how much they’ve bought into our scheme and the way we’re trying to get things done. And then for them to lose part of their season, and Carl’s case all of his season, I feel sick for them.”