Alijah Vera-Tucker fills in at tackle as Jets grow even thinner at position

Alijah Vera-Tucker fills in at tackle as Jets grow even thinner at position

PITTSBURGH — The Jets had a surprise move on the offensive line for Sunday’s win over the Steelers

They moved Alijah Vera-Tucker from right guard to left tackle to fill in for the injured George Fant. Vera-Tucker played one year at left tackle at USC but was drafted as a guard and has played there the past two years. 

“It was definitely different,” Vera-Tucker said. “They came to me early in the week, on Tuesday and said they might not need me to play left tackle. They said at the end of the day, it was my decision. I just felt like it was for the best for the team. With the help of the guys on defense and offense, everybody gave me as much advice as they could and I felt good out there today.” 

With Vera-Tucker moving to tackle, Nate Herbig started at right guard. 

“Just the combination of him and Herbig there at guard, we felt like that would be a really good stabilizing combination,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said. 

Vera-Tucker said he spent the week watching film of tackles from around the NFL as well as some of his own college film at tackle to prepare. 

The Jets have had a run of incredible bad injury luck at tackle and it continued Sunday. Rookie Max Mitchell, who has started every game at right tackle, injured his left knee in the second quarter and had to be carted off. Mitchell was on crutches after the game and had a large brace on the knee. Saleh said Mitchell will undergo testing Monday. The Jets have already lost Mekhi Becton, Duane Brown and Fant at the position. 

“Eventually that group has got to get a run of good luck with health and see if we can string together some games having the same group over and over again,” Saleh said. 

DT Quinnen Williams responded to the comments last week from defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, . 

“It didn’t bother me at all,” Williams said. “I’ve been around [Ulbrich] for two years now. I know his heart, man. I know that social media and media can twist words and make things seem like it’s not. We talked right after it went viral and we had a great conversation just about each other and how he feels about me and how I feel about him and stuff like that.”

DE Carl Lawson was penalized for roughing the passer at the end of the second quarter and it allowed Steelers kicker Chris Boswell to kick a 59-yard field goal. 

“Gotta be more disciplined,” Lawson said. “Horrible, could have cost my team the game, and that won’t happen again. Just bad mistake by me, and it will not happen again.” 

Zach Wilson’s touchdown reception was the first touchdown catch by a Jets quarterback in franchise history. Mike White caught a two-point conversion last year.

Jets quarterback Zach Wilson was far from perfect in his return but he came up huge in the fourth quarter. He completed 10 of 12 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter. He led the Jets down the field twice to erase a 10-point deficit. 

Mitch Trubisky was terrible for the Steelers and got benched at halftime. Trubisky did nothing in the first half, completing 7 of 13 passes for 84 yards and an interception. The Steelers looked like a different team once rookie Kenny Pickett entered the game. 

Alijah Vera-Tucker moved from right guard to left tackle to help the Jets’ ailing line. It is the third position that Vera-Tucker has played in his two years with the Jets, having moved from left guard to right guard at the start of this season. Wilson was only sacked once as the Jets’ makeshift offensive line held up. 

4 Takeaways by the Jets, the first time they have done that since Week 1 of the 2019 season. They intercepted Trubisky once and Pickett three times, including the big one from Michael Carter II that set up the game-winning drive. 

— Jets RB Breece Hall on what QB Zach Wilson said in the huddle before the game-winning drive