Bilal Powell, dealing with calf strain, returns to Jets practice

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Monday, October 23, 2017

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- After missing one game with a strained calf, running back Bilal Powell returned to practice Thursday and will play Sunday, meaning the New York Jets will be at full strength in the backfield for the first time since Week 3.

"It's another healthy body," coach Todd Bowles said. "Hopefully he can make some plays."

The Jets (3-3) are on the road against the Miami Dolphins, their Week 3 opponent. In that game, a 20-6 Jets win, Matt Forte suffered a turf-toe injury, which sidelined him for two games. When he returned, Powell was out.

Finally the Jets will have their top three backs: Forte, Powell and rookie Elijah McGuire.

"It does a lot," Forte said of Powell's return. "You see what he can do out there, not only in the passing game but in the running game as well. He's a different style of runner, with great vision and explosiveness. It's another threat to our running game."

Except for a 256-yard explosion against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Jets' rushing attack has sputtered for the most part. They were so pass-heavy in last week's loss to the New England Patriots that offensive coordinator John Morton called passes on 54 of 75 plays.

Coach Todd Bowles said he wants balance on offense. Morton said he has to adjust based on circumstances.

"I try to be balanced, but the game changes and it becomes a chess match at times," Morton said. "We went into the last game hoping to be aggressive. We preached that all week. That was our approach. ... We're going to do whatever it takes to win."

Powell is the Jets' leading rusher (240 yards), followed by McGuire (198) and Forte (116).

The Jets' biggest question is defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, who missed practice for the second straight day. He also didn't practice last week, battling toe and shoulder injuries, but he played a full game against the Patriots.

He's "up in the air" for Sunday, Bowles said.