The New York Jets were already thin at linebacker in the wake of Avery Williamson's torn ACL. New York just took another massive hit at the position as Brandon Copeland was suspended four games for performance-enhancing substances.
Copeland will return to the Jets for their Week 5 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. He started 10 games for the Jets last season, finishing with 35 tackles and five sacks while playing all 16 games. He was in line to start for Williamson after the starting linebacker tore his ACL playing with the second team in the Jets last preseason game, which head coach Adam Gase admitted was a mistake.
"Looking back on it, hindsight is 20/20, I wish I would've gotten him out of there a series earlier," Gase said to reporters Sunday. "I talked to him. It's on me. I'm the one who has to make that call and get him out of there. We didn't. It's a shame because he was having a good camp."
The Jets are down their top two outside linebackers with the Copeland suspension. Harvey Langi is next in line on the depth chart, but he hasn't played a regular-season game since 2017 with the New England Patriots. Langi spent the majority of 2018 on the Jets practice squad.
Rookies Jachai Polite and Jamey Mosley are also candidates for more playing time. Polite, a third-round pick, had 11 sacks at Florida and 19.5 tackles for loss.
"He's got size, he's got a good attitude," said Jets outside linebackers coach Joe Vitt. "The pads are going to define him when we put them on."