How many of them are big impact?

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A couple things to get into today . . .

The Jets have 20 players on the COVID-19 list.

So what impact could this have on the game?

Going over the list of all 20 players, I would say four are significant – guards Alijah Vera-Tucker and Laurent Durvernay-Tardif along with defensive linemen Foley Fatukasi and John Franklin-Myers.

The rest of the players they can replace. Granted receiver Elijah Moore (pictured above) is on the list, but he wasn’t going to play anyway due to a leg injury.

As for safety, Elijah Riley’s status is up on the air due to a concussion, not COVID-19. His status is unclear, so that position could have two new starters with Ashytyn Davis on COVID-19, but Davis is more a backup/special teams player anyway.

The Jets brought in two veteran safeties this week in Will Parks and Kai Nacua, and also have had Elijah Benton on the practice squad since December 8. Nacua was in San Francisco with Robert Saleh. They also have Jason Pinnock, who they are transitioning to safety, but has struggled at his new position so far. Believe it or not, Parks, Nacua and Benton might be better options than Pinnock right now, since he’s still learning safety after playing corner at Pitt. Parks, Nacua and Benton are more comfortable at safety than Pinnock is right now. You don’t just flick a switch and somebody is comfortable going from cornerback to safety. The spacing is way different at the positions.

Keep in mind, the Jets play a very simple defense, so veteran safeties like Parks and Nacua can probably get up to speed fairly fast. And expect the Jets to also have a reserve cornerback there. They cross-train these guys. If Lamar Jackson clears the COVID-19 protocols, he has experience at safety in high school and college.

Not saying this is ideal, but the Jets are ranked 32nd in overall defense, and 32nd in scoring defense. Their rankings can’t do down any further. There have been a lot of blown coverages over the course of this season.

And it’s possible from that list of 20 players, some guys could be cleared by Sunday. We will see.

But you know what, many teams are in the same boat, and this should not come as a huge surprise, since according to the NFL’s chief doctor, Allen Sills, the vaccine doesn’t prevent you from getting COVID-19, but can help keep you out of the hospital with the most serious symptoms.

“What we are seeing are some vaccinated people who test positive, but their illness tends to be very short and very mild, and that’s exactly what the vaccines were designed to do,” said Sills. “Let’s all remember the vaccines were designed to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death.”

So with that being said, is it a surprise that many players are testing positive? NFL locker rooms are very germy  . . .

The Jets have a feature they run on their website called “Flight Cam” where they ask pop culture questions to players as they walk out to the practice field.

They ran one today with the question – “Name Santa’s nine reindeer.”

This was taped last week leading into the Miami game, but aired this week.

Some would argue that going out to practice, the players should only focus on things like the game plan, their assignments, technique and so forth, not trying to remember the name of Santa’s reindeer.

One of the guys interviewed coming out was Pinnock. This guy has so much on his plate right now, mentally, as he tries to transition from cornerback to safety. He’s got a lot on his mind.

He’s also become a key special team player for the Jets, covering kicks and punts. In the first quarter of the Miami game – Braden Mann punted 48 yards to the Miami 17, Tommy Lee Lewis called a fair catch, and Pinnock hit him anyway and was called for a 15-yard penalty. If a returner calls for a fair catch you can’t touch him. This was a bad mistake.

Some would argue asking players about Santa’s reindeer as they walk out to an NFL practice field might not be ideal from a culture and focus standpoint.

But some would argue there is nothing wrong with this, and players can multi-task.

But these things are important to analyze as the Jets try to build a strong football culture.

December 23, 2021

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Dan Leberfeld
Dan Leberfeld
Publisher of Jets Confidential Magazine. Call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4) to subscribe. Co-host of Press Coverage every Saturday on SiriusXM NFL Radio from 11-2.

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