The New York Jets will have to do without one of their more underratedly effective offensive weapons for the rest of the season. The team announced on Wednesday that they've placed running back Bilal Powell on injured reserve with a neck injury.
According to Jets coach Todd Bowles, the injury is so serious it could potentially be career-ending. Powell will be undergoing surgery on his neck at some point in the near future.
Powell was averaging 4.3 yards per carry on 80 rushing attempts this season, forming an intermittently effective 1-2 punch with free-agent acquisition Isaiah Crowell. He suffered the neck injury during the second quarter of last week's loss to the Vikings and did not return to the game.
Rookie running back Trenton Cannon replaced Powell in the lineup last week, rushing twice for four yards and catching four passes for 69 yards. He and Crowell will likely carry the load again in Week 8, but second-year man Elijah McGuire is eligible to return from his own IR stint beginning in Week 9. McGuire broke his foot during the offseason and has been inactive the whole season, though he did return to practice last week and appears to be gearing up to come off IR when first eligible.
The Jets face tough run defenses in the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins over the next two weeks, then face the Bills' average unit before heading on a bye and returning against the Patriots' below-average group. Crowell looks like he's been running well overall, but most of his production has come in two games. He had 10 carries for 102 yards in the opener and 15 for an incredible 219 yards against the Broncos, but his other 56 carries have totaled just 138 yards -- an average of 2.46 per pop. Without Powell, the Jets will need Cannon or McGuire to step up and provide some consistency next to Crowell in the backfield.