Jets safety Bradley McDougal hasn't played for New York since Week 7 due to a shoulder injury.
Even if he's already surpassed his three-week minimum on the injured reserve—where he's been situated since Oct. 31—Jets head coach Adam Gase isn't convinced McDougal will return in the near future.
"No, I don’t see him coming back anytime soon," Gase sad in a Zoom call with reporters on Wednesday.
McDougal was part of the trade with the Seahawks in July that sent Jamal Adams to Seattle. New York also received two first-round picks in the acquisition. Across seven games this season, the 30-year-old has 36 tackles, 3 pass defenses and 1 fumble recovery.
The veteran out of Kansas is in his eighth NFL season.
With McDougal out, New York has relied heavily on youth in the secondary. Rookie Ashtyn Davis has started each of the last four games since McDougal's last appearance, playing in all but one defensive snap in that span.
The same goes at cornerback. Since New York released Pierre Desir, and had both Bless Austin and Brian Poole land on the injured reserve, rookies like Bryce Hall, Lamar Jackson and Javelin Guidry have seen an increase in playing time.
It's unclear heading into Week 13 if McDougal will be able to return at safety over the final five weeks of the season. Gase did mention, however, that rookies on both sides of the ball have gotten incredible experience and learned valuable lessons this season. That's good news for years to come even if starting inexperienced players has contributed to this team's winless record.
"The guys that are stepping in, and the younger guys especially, they’ve got to take every rep they can, which they do and they go extremely hard," Gase said. "They try to find ways to get better and then when we get in those games, those are even better experiences for them because that’s the best way to get better is go against good players."