New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan announced Thursday that he expects veteran wide receiver Braylon Edwards to play against the Tennessee Titans on "Monday Night Football." This is a huge game for the Jets (6-7), who are just one game out of the final wild-card spot in the AFC.
What can we expect for the former Pro Bowl receiver? Let’s examine.
Health is the first issue. Edwards is still bothered by a hamstring that eventually led to his release with the Seattle Seahawks. He's practicing this week in a limited capacity. Edwards made little impact with Seattle, and hasn't caught a pass since Week 6 against the New England Patriots. To expect Edwards to come in on short notice and dominate is asking too much. Edwards has to play his role and contribute, while other skill players like receiver Jeremy Kerley and tailback Shonn Greene shoulder the load.
Learning a new offense is the second issue. Edwards says he’s "coming home" to his former team. But although he's playing with many of the same players from 2010, Edwards is playing in a new system. Brian Schottenheimer’s offense is significantly different from Tony Sparano's offense. That probably means Edwards’ role in the offense also changes.
Chemistry is the third issue. Two years have gone by since Edwards last played football with his Jets teammates. Will he hit the ground running and immediately be on the same page? The good news is Edwards and quarterback Mark Sanchez have always had a good rapport. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Sanchez has 10 career touchdown passes to Edwards. The Jets can use another scoring connection from these two against the Titans.
Overall, it's important for the Jets to set realistic expectations with Edwards. He's not the same big-play receiver he was two years ago. But Edwards, if healthy, is still capable of contributing to New York's playoff push.