Crowder has virus-related symptoms, coach Robert Saleh said Monday, but NFL protocols allow him to return to the team before Sunday because he's vaccinated. Once he's asymptomatic for 48 hours, he must have two negative tests 24 hours apart to be eligible.
If Crowder had been unvaccinated, he would've been required to sit out a minimum of 10 days, meaning he likely would've missed the opener.
"We're just taking it a day at a time," said Saleh, adding that Crowder was an isolated incident with no close contacts.
Crowder, the Jets' leading receiver in 2019 and 2020, is their top slot receiver this year. If he can't play, they could use rookie Elijah Moore or Braxton Berrios in the slot. Their top outside receivers are Corey Davis and Keelan Cole.
The Jets placed an emphasis on rebuilding their receiving corps in an effort to help rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, who was basically handed the starting job as soon as he was drafted second overall in April.
Wilson will have his blindside protector against the Panthers, as left tackle Mekhi Becton is expected to receive final clearance Tuesday to play. He suffered a concussion two weeks ago in a joint practice with the Philadelphia Eagles.