WATCH: Jets could call on Sam Darnold's ex-USC teammate if Jamison Crowder's injury lingers

Deontay Burnett flashed some potential with the Jets as a rookie last season
Author:
Publish date:

Jets fans are crossing their fingers regarding the status of slot receiver Jamison Crowder. 

Crowder was off to a strong start throughout the beginning of training camp. The free agent acquisition from the Redskins reeled in a 40-yard touchdown reception from Sam Darnold on Monday. 

However, Crowder left practice shortly afterwards, as trainers examined his left foot, according to NJ.com. Jets coach Adam Gase says Crowder will have an MRI and as of now the severity of the injury is unknown. 

Last season, Crowder missed seven games due to a right ankle injury. The hope is that this is only a minor setback and Crowder won't miss any action. Darnold and Crowder were developing impressive chemistry in training camp. 

"Everyone knows how quick he is, but man, he's fast too," Darnold said to NFL.com. "And I think he can hit another gear."

Yet, if Crowder's injury is revealed to require a lengthy timetable, the Jets will need to examine other options to replace his production. 

“When a guy goes down, the next guy has to step up," Gase said to NJ.com. "Just keep playing, move some things around, call some different plays, feature other guys. That’s just part of football.”

A player that could step in and fill the void is Deontay Burnett, who is quite familiar with Darnold. The duo played together at USC and reunited as rookies on the Jets last season. 

The second-year receiver isn't as seasoned as Crowder but made a positive impression with the Jets last season. In five games and one starting appearance, Burnett recorded 10 receptions for 143 yards. 

On Monday, Burnett showcased his playmaking ability with a nifty touchdown reception on a pass from Trevor Siemian. 

With added reps, Darnold and Burnett might be able to recapture some of that Southern California magic. In their final season together at USC, Darnold connected with Burnett  for 86 receptions, 1,114 yards, and nine touchdowns. 

Here's how Burnett was described by NFL.com prior to his pro career:

“Standard issue slot receiver with a thin frame but above-average toughness when it’s time to make a catch and move the chains. Burnett doesn’t have the size or separation speed for frequent work down the field and may be better suited to a role as a possession target. Burnett lacks play strength and may need to compensate by learning to create space for himself through a more leveraged approach as a route-runner. He lacks high-end measurables but could become a decent WR3 in a spread-oriented attack.”

The Jets have receivers Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa on the outside, as well as  potent pass-catching running backs in Le'Veon Bell and Ty Montgomery. If Burnett proved capable in the slot, he would alleviate the burden on those players. 

The Jets would obviously love to receive optimistic news after Crowder's MRI. But in the worst case scenario, it's reassuring to consider the untapped promise of Burnett.