- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets might have an anemic offense, but the team is relatively healthy as it prepares for the season opener.
Tight end Dustin Keller (hamstring) and linebacker David Harris (ankle), both of whom were injured Sunday night against the Carolina Panthers, will be ready to face the Buffalo Bills in Week 1, coach Rex Ryan said Tuesday.
Nose tackle Sione Pouha (back), safety Yeremiah Bell (knee), tight end Jeff Cumberland (concussion) and wide receiver Chaz Schilens (ankle), all of whom have missed at least one preseason game, also are expected to play in the opener.
Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Moore won't practice this week because of what the team described as a "minor" surgical procedure. He was home resting, but will be ready to play the opener, according to a team spokesman who said the procedure was scheduled. The team refused to reveal the exact nature of the surgery, noting league rules don't require an injury report until Week 1.
But the Jets might not have safety Eric Smith (hip), a key backup and valuable special-teams performer.
"He's fighting through it," Ryan said. "He might be our biggest question mark right now."
Smith hurt his hip and sprained an MCL, in the second preseason game. The knee has healed, but the hip continues to cause discomfort. If he can't play, the Jets would have to use rookie Josh Bush as their third safety behind Bell and LaRon Landry.
The Jets, the first team in 35 years not to score a touchdown in its first three preseason games, should have their full complement of weapons for the first game. Wide receivers Santonio Holmes (rib) and Jeremy Kerley, who both returned last week after long layoffs, didn't suffer any setbacks in the Carolina game.
Ryan is planning to rest most of his starters Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles in the final preseason game, meaning the Jets -- from an offensive standpoint -- will go into the first game with absolutely no momentum.
"We're surprised we haven't scored a touchdown yet," Ryan said. "OK, that's unfortunate, but the goal of ours is to evaluate guys and to implement a system at our pace. It's a work in progress, we understand that. But by the time we get to Buffalo, there's no excuses -- and we don't plan on needing to make them."
Like Hunter, Smith, the second overall pick in 2009, had lost his starting job. Ostensibly, he'll be a backup for the Jets, but Ryan stopped short of committing to Austin Howard as his opening day starter. Ryan praised Hunter's replacement, saying he "assumes" Howard will start, but he left some wiggle room.
12hEric D. Williams
19hDan Graziano and Adam Caplan