2:27pm: Further testing has, unexpectedly, revealed the worst-case scenario. Vera-Tucker has suffered a torn Achilles, Rapoport notes. The news confirms the 24-year-old will be sidelined for the rest of the season, and marks a massive blow to the team’s offensive line. At least one year remains on his rookie contract, but the team can keep him in place through 2025 if they elect to exercise his fifth-year option in the spring.
12:03pm: The Jets won what was dubbed the ‘Nathaniel Hackett Bowl’ on Sunday, delivering an impressive offensive performance in the process. The unit was dealt a notable blow on the injury front, however.
Alijah Vera-Tucker suffered a calf injury in Week 5, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. Further testing is required, but Rapoport adds that an Achilles injury is not expected to be in play. Major injuries of the latter nature are usually known before an MRI confirms them, so a shorter-term absence should be expected in this case.
Still, losing Vera-Tucker for any stretch would be signficant for a Jets team which has struggled to find stability up front. The 2021 first-rounder took over at right tackle following the injury suffered by blindside blocker Duane Brown – something which forced Mekhi Becton to move to the LT spot. Vera-Tucker’s play at tackle (rather than guard) had prompted New York to consider a full-time switch. Those plans will now be put on hold, though.
The USC product had experience on the inside and outside coming out of college, and finding the ideal spot for him has been a talking point for the Jets amidst their struggles up front. Vera-Tucker played exclusively at left guard as a rookie, but he has split time at guard and tackle on the right side since then. Strong run blocking has led to overall PFF grades in the low 70s in 2022 and the early stages of this season. Comparative struggles in pass blocking (something which has plagued many Jets O-linemen) have, however, remained a constant in his young NFL career.
Becton’s ability to log an every-down role this season has been a welcomed development given his lengthy injury history, and much will be expected of him with Brown on injured reserve and Vera-Tucker set to miss time. MRI results will go a long way in determining how long the latter is sidelined, but even a brief absence would tax the Jets’ tackle depth even further. Veteran Billy Turner and 2022 fourth-rounder Max Mitchell – neither of whom have seen signficant playing time this year – would be in line to fill in for Vera-Tucker in the starting lineup.