The New York Jets' stout defense will be adding "an extra weapon" after the upcoming bye week when Sheldon Richardson returns from a four-game suspension.
Coach Todd Bowles did not say if the Pro Bowl defensive lineman will return to his starting role. However, Bowles insisted there won't be any issues mixing Richardson back in with Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams working well together thus far starting alongside nose tackle Damon Harrison.
"[Richardson] gives us an extra weapon, extra depth down there," Bowles said on a conference call on Monday with reporters. "To me, he is a Pro Bowl player, he's a heckuva player. Get him back in football shape and get him in the rotation and keep moving forward."
Richardson completed a four-game suspension on Sunday for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. There's the possibility for further discipline due to his arrest in Missouri during the offseason. However, a St. Charles County judge postponed Richardson's hearing on charges until Nov. 9 at the request of Richardson's attorney.
The former University of Missouri standout, 24, was arrested on July 14 after a car chase in which police said Richardson was speeding with a 12-year-old relative and two other men inside a car. Police said Richardson appeared to be racing with another car and that they discovered a loaded handgun and a "very strong odor of burned marijuana" in the vehicle. Richardson pleaded not guilty to five misdemeanor charges.
Bowles said the Jets have not been given any indication yet on whether Richardson will be disciplined for violating the league's conduct policy.
The Jets improved to 3-1 on Sunday with a 27-14 win over the Dolphins in London. Bowles' defense harassed Ryan Tannehill into 19-of-44 passing for 198 yards. The Dolphins quarterback had two touchdowns but was intercepted twice and sacked three times. Miami was held to 226 yards of total offense.
And now Bowles is eager to add Richardson to a defense that has already forced 13 turnovers. The defensive end had 8 sacks last season.
"You don't have a challenge finding places for good players to play," Bowles said when asked if it will be difficult incorporating Richardson with how well Wilkerson and Williams are playing. "You just play him."
Richardson's first game back will be against the Washington Redskins on Oct. 18. The defensive end could potentially start, especially if Williams is unable to play. The team's first-round pick has an ankle injury and Bowles is unsure whether he or any of the team's injured players will be ready to play after the bye week.
"We are obviously happy to have him [back]," quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said of Richardson. "... I know he is a great player. It was tough all offseason going up against our defense [with him in practice]. So it is nice to see them bully somebody else for a change."