By Dennis Waszak Jr.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW YORK _ The New York Jets are dealing with a stunning shake-up on their offensive line.
Right guard Willie Colon was placed on season-ending injured reserve Wednesday with chronic knee problems, creating a roster spot for the Jets to activate cornerback Dee Milliner from short-term IR.
The 32-year-old Colon missed last Sunday’s game against Jacksonville and was uncertain to play against Buffalo on Thursday night. He will be replaced by Brian Winters, a third-round pick in 2013 who started against the Jaguars _ and will likely be the team’s right guard the rest of the season.
Colon spoke last week about how rest is the best thing for his knees, so it wasn’t a surprise when he was inactive Sunday with the Jets facing two games in five days. The thought was Colon could get a few extra days off and be ready for the game against the AFC East-rival Buffalo Bills on Thursday night.
But Colon was limited at the team’s walkthrough Monday and didn’t practice Tuesday, prompting coach Todd Bowles to say he was pessimistic about the offensive lineman’s chances of playing.
“His knee was still sore, so we didn’t even bring him out,” Bowles said Tuesday.
Colon started every game the last two seasons after signing with the Jets in 2013, and was brought back during the off-season. He won the job with a strong summer, beating out several other candidates. But he sprained his right knee against Philadelphia in Week 3 and missed New York’s game against Miami in London the following week. He returned for the next game and played in three straight before sitting out Sunday.
Colon has played in 100 regular-season games; he spent his first six NFL seasons with Pittsburgh after being a fourth-round pick out of Hofstra in 2006. But the latest injury setback could signal the end of a solid career.
The Jets needed to clear a roster spot for Milliner, who needed surgery after injuring a tendon in his right wrist during training camp. If New York didn’t activate him Wednesday, he would have been placed on season-ending IR.
Winters started 12 games at left guard in 2013, and six at the position last season before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Milliner will give the Jets’ banged-up secondary a boost, especially with cornerback Antonio Cromartie doubtful to play Thursday with an injured left thigh. Fellow cornerback Buster Skrine is also questionable with shoulder and hand injuries.
Bowles acknowledged Tuesday that with Marcus Gilchrist and Rontez Miles the only healthy safeties on the roster, he could move some of the cornerbacks into that role in spot duty. While Milliner wouldn’t be in that mix, he could end up seeing lots of time opposite Darrelle Revis at cornerback.
Milliner was the Jets’ first-round pick out of Alabama in 2013, but he has played in only 16 games because of various injuries. Three separate injuries _ a high ankle sprain, an injured quadriceps and a torn Achilles tendon _ limited him to just three games last season.
NOTES: Safeties Dion Bailey and Calvin Pryor, both dealing with high ankle sprains, are out against Buffalo. RB Bilal Powell, also dealing with an ankle injury, was limited at practice and was doubtful for the game. WRs Eric Decker (knee) and Brandon Marshall (toe, ankle) were both full participants for the second straight day and will play.
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