Sunday, August 24, 2014
Saunders returns to practice, will play
By Rich Cimini
Rookie punt returner Jalen Saunders, who experienced an undisclosed "medical event" that apparently led to a one-car accident nine days ago, returned to practice Sunday and will play in the New York Jets' final preseason game Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Saunders wore a red no-contact jersey, but he has been medically cleared and will participate fully on Monday, according to Rex Ryan.
"He's ready to roll," Ryan said. "We expect to see a great deal of him in this game [as a punt returner and wide receiver]."
Once again, Ryan refused to divulge anything about Saunders' medical condition. All he said was, "We feel good about that now." Saunders, too, hasn't provided any specifics, except to say he underwent tests and was seen by a neurologist. The initial suspicion was that he suffered a seizure behind the wheel, causing him to drive off the road while attempting a left turn near the Jets' facility.
Saunders, a fourth-round pick from Oklahoma, has missed two games. His return probably factored into the decision to release wide receiver/kickoff returner Jacoby Ford, who also worked as a punt returner.
"There seemed to be some struggles," Ryan said of Ford's release. "Obviously, we used him as a punt returner and we know he had the muffed punt (Friday night), but that wasn’t the reason. We just felt we had better options on this football team for our situation."
The Jets still have a crowded situation at receiver. Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson appear to be locks. Beyong them, there's Saunders, Stephen Hill, Greg Salas and Saalim Hakim. Ryan sounded high on Hakim, identifying him as their No. 1 kickoff returner.