New York Jets offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker has a torn Achilles tendon that will sideline him for the rest of the season.
Coach Robert Saleh announced Monday that an MRI revealed the nature of the injury, which occurred in the second quarter of New York’s 31-21 victory at Denver on Sunday. It’s the same field where Vera-Tucker suffered a season-ending torn triceps a year ago.
“Second year in a row and we’re all kind of surprised because he played a play on it and walked off on his own power, he walked to the locker room on his own power,” Saleh said. “So we were pretty optimistic that that part of it was going to be OK.”
The Jets announced during the game that Vera-Tucker had a calf injury, but Saleh said afterward there was “concern” it could be serious.
Vera-Tucker has been arguably the Jets’ best offensive lineman and their most versatile. He started the first two games at right guard before sliding over to right tackle. Vera-Tucker, a 2021 first-round draft pick out of USC, also has played left guard and left tackle during his brief NFL career.
Second-year O-lineman Max Mitchell replaced Vera-Tucker against the Broncos, but Saleh wouldn’t reveal the Jets’ plan at right tackle moving forward. The Jets also have veteran Billy Turner on the active roster, while Duane Brown and rookie Carter Warren are on injured reserve. Brown isn’t eligible to return until after the Jets’ bye-week break next week. Warren’s 21-day window to be activated began last week, but it’s uncertain how close he is to playing shape.
“It’s a blow, but I feel bad for him,” Saleh said of Vera-Tucker. “He battled his way back this offseason from the injury a year ago and to have this happen again, it’s just unfortunate.”
He’s the second key member of the Jets’ offense to suffer a torn Achilles tendon after quarterback Aaron Rodgers was injured on the fourth snap of his debut with the team in the season opener.
Vera-Tucker moved from right guard to right tackle when Brown — the left tackle — was placed on IR after the second game. Mekhi Becton slid from the left side to take Brown’s spot, creating the need for Vera-Tucker to switch positions. Saleh spoke last week about potentially keeping Vera-Tucker at right tackle permanently because of how well he played there.
Saleh was not immediately certain when or where Vera-Tucker would have surgery to repair his Achilles tendon.
Rodgers had his surgery in Los Angeles with Dr. Neal ElAttrache, and he had a “speed bridge” procedure that’s designed to accelerate the rehabilitation process. Rodgers has said his goal is to return late this season.
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