FLORHAM PARK. N.J. -- For the first time in 11 years, the New York Jets will open the season with a new left tackle, Ryan Clady. Barring a miracle, they'll have a new right tackle, too, because incumbent Breno Giacomini still is battling a back problem.
Coach Todd Bowles acknowledged for the first time that Giacomini may not be ready for the Sept. 11 opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"I have no idea," Bowles said on Thursday. "It's getting close and he hasn't done anything."
Giacomini was placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list at the start of training camp and still isn't practicing. With only six practices remaining before the opener, Giacomini is a long shot. By his own estimation, he's at "80-percent speed." On Wednesday, he was able to get into a three-point stance and practice basic blocks against air.
"It's not where I need to be to be on the field," said Giacomini, speaking to reporters for the first time since the injury.
Giacomini called it a lower-back strain, saying it occurred at the June minicamp. The worst pain, he said, was over the July 4 weekend. He didn't say how it happened, but it apparently occurred while lifting weights. He said it's not a disc-related issue, although sources described it as more than a strain. He declined to comment when asked if he has received epidural injections.
This is a concern for the Jets.
"They've been going back and forth," Bowles said. "This game [on Saturday] will be big. [The Giants] have two premier defensive ends over there. It'll be good to see them against those type of people."
Bowles also confirmed they're exploring options outside the organization. Aside from the quarterback situation, the right-tackle search will be one of the main storylines as teams cut their rosters over the next 10 days.
"We'll consider it," Bowles said of outside help. "We've talked about it and we'll continue to talk about it. We'll see how [Ijalana and Qvale] come along and see if we're going to add anybody."
One team to watch is the San Francisco 49ers, who have two experienced right tackles -- Trent Brown and Anthony Davis. A former first-round pick, Davis has 71 career starts, but he's working behind Brown after returning to the team following a one-year "retirement." The 49ers are giving Davis a chance to play right guard, so maybe he won't be expendable.
Any decision will be based, in large part, on Giacomini's prognosis. Initially, it was projected as a six- to eight-week injury. He just passed the eight-week mark, so he may not be far away from returning. The question is, do they carry him on the 53-man roster or place him on regular-season PUP, meaning he'd have to miss a minimum of six games.
"Is it a possibility? Probably," Giacomini said. "It's something I don't want, but that's something I can't control.
"Right now, I'm considered day-to-day," he said. "I don't know when I'll be back, but I'm progressing."