/Jets WR Quincy Enunwa out for season with neck injury

Jets WR Quincy Enunwa out for season with neck injury

FLORHAM PARK — Things just got worse for the Jets. 

Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa has been ruled out for the season after suffering a neck injury in Sunday’s loss to the Bills, coach Adam Gase said on Wednesday morning.

Enunwa missed all of the 2017 season with a serious neck injury that required surgery. It’s unclear if it’s a career-threatening injury. 

“I don’t want to say that, because I’m not a doctor,” Gase said. “I don’t understand the details of everything. I just know for this season, I know for sure. I think he’s going through a lot of different tests. He’s got to talk to doctors. I don’t want to say that, because I don’t know.”

Enunwa briefly left Sunday’s game in the first quarter and received medical attention on the sideline, but returned and played in 66 of 72 offensive snaps. Gase said he did not know if this injury was related to Enunwa’s previous neck issue or if it would require surgery. 

It’s a huge loss for the Jets, who made a long-term commitment to Enunwa at the end of last season and were hoping to showcase the 27-year-old’s versatility as a major part of the offense this season. It’s also a nightmare situation for Enunwa, who had seemingly moved past the neck issue last season.

“You lose a starter, you lose a guy that’s a veteran player, that’s been through a lot, that’s done a lot of good things,” Gase said. “He’s done everything you possibly could ask a guy to do. He tries to do everything right. He works hard, he studies, he tries to lead by example. He speaks up when he has to. The way he plays, everything was violent and he gives everything he has. And I feel for him just in the aspect that he’s going through something like this. It’s not something that’s easy for guys that have been doing this their whole lives.” 

The Jets were already thin at receiver, starting the season with Enunwa, Jamison Crowder and Robby Anderson as their only proven contributors. They’re also down another key pass-catcher in tight end Chris Herndon, who was suspended the first four games of the season.

Enunwa’s injury, which the team learned the extent of Monday night, pushed the Jets to make a rare deal with the Patriots on Tuesday to acquire veteran receiver Demaryius Thomas.

“We had to look at some other avenues after we found out about that,” Gase said.

Thomas passed his physical Wednesday morning, making the trade official, and Gase said he expects the 31-year-old to be ready to play Monday night against the Browns. Gase knows Thomas well; he coached him from 2010-14 as Denver’s wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator.

“Smart, versatile,” Gase said. “Get the ball in his hands [and] he’s a big man that could run. He’s not 24 anymore. I’m not stupid in that aspect. I understand that there’s an aging process here. But he’s still a big man that can run really well for a guy his size.”

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Thomas is a five-time Pro Bowler but has been on the decline the last several years. He spent most the summer on the physically unable to perform list but played in the Patriots’ final preseason game, scoring two touchdowns.

“He looks like he’s in a good place,” Gase said. “We’ll see how it goes. He knows the offense, he can easily be plugged in. He still remembers everything.”

Gase says he won’t make wholesale changes to his game plans with Enunwa gone. He’s always viewed his receivers as versatile enough to play similar roles. Having running backs like Le’Veon Bell and Ty Montgomery, who are both capable receivers, should help.

Still, losing Enunwa is a blow. 

“There’s certain routes that were for him that nobody else really does,” Gase said. “He does a lot of the dirty work that nobody else really notices. So there’s some of those things that we won’t be able to do.” 

In December, there was a lot of hope about Enunwa’s future after he signed a four-year, $36 million extension with $20.25 in guarantees. He wanted to be one of the key parts of the team as it worked to become a contender. 

But now all of that is in question.

Enunwa was injured in the first quarter of Sunday’s 17-16 loss to the Bills, blocking Bills safety Micah Hyde during a Le’Veon Bell run. Enunwa, who seemed to go helmet-to-helmet with Hyde, stayed down on a knee and walked slowly to the sideline where he was evaluated by the team’s medical staff in a tent behind the benches. Moments later, he checked back into the game. 

“I didn’t get the details, they just told me he was out and then all the sudden he was standing next to me,” Gase said. “He’s tough. He’s not going to really give you a whole bunch of explanations. Sometimes when you go in you have some good contact, you might get caught at the bottom of a pile and maybe you’ve got to come out and just kind of shake off anything that bothers you. So I didn’t think anything of at the time, because it’s just kind of, like, football.”

He finished with one catch for -4 yards and as he stood by his locker after the game, he seemed to be fine physically. But he wasn’t. And now the Jets have 15 more games to play without one of their most important pieces. 

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