The New York Jets — and their anxious fans — can exhale.
An MRI exam Sunday revealed that rookie defensive lineman Leonard Williams has a muscle strain behind one of his knees, and the team avoided a potentially devastating injury to its first-round draft pick.
Williams, the sixth pick overall out of USC, got hurt in the first half of the Jets’ 28-18 preseason victory over the New York Giants on Saturday night. The MRI showed no ligament damage to Williams’ knee.
There was no immediate timetable on when Williams might return, but it isn’t expected to be a long-term injury. The Jets open the regular season on Sept. 13 at home against Cleveland — giving him two weeks to rest and heal.
Coach Todd Bowles wasn’t certain when Williams was injured, but the rookie was limping slightly and favoring his left leg as he walked behind the end zone and to the Jets’ locker room after the Giants kicked off following a touchdown with 3:53 left in the first half. Williams never returned to the sideline after halftime, but X-rays on the knee were negative and he was receiving treatment in the trainer’s room long after the game was over.
Williams is expected to be a major part of Bowles’ defense. He has been starting for the Jets in place of Sheldon Richardson, who is suspended for the first four games of the regular season after violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Richardson is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Missouri on charges of resisting arrest. The defensive lineman reached speeds as high as 143 mph in a road race on July 14, and later sped from police. Richardson could face additional discipline from the NFL for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, so Williams could see an expanded role to start his rookie season if healthy.
Brooks won’t practice
Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks will not practice this coming week with the San Francisco 49ers, who sent him away from the team after he was charged with misdemeanor sexual battery Wednesday.
Coach Jim Tomsula said Sunday there was no change in Brooks’ status.
“That’s day to day. I have not been updated on that at all, so it’s exactly where it is,” Tomsula said, adding that Brooks would not practice.
The team sent him home Thursday morning from Colorado, where the 49ers held a pair of joint practices with the Broncos before playing a preseason game against Denver on Saturday night.
General manager Trent Baalke said he wasn’t sure how long the expulsion would last or whether it would be permanent.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office charged Brooks for an alleged assault on Dec. 15 at the home of former teammate Ray McDonald, who on Wednesday was indicted by a grand jury for rape of an intoxicated person involving the same victim. An arraignment had yet to be scheduled.
Brian Hoyer led scoring drives on two of his first three series since being named Houston’s starting quarterback, and the Texans went on to a 27-13 preseason victory over the Saints in New Orleans.
All three Texans quarterbacks led scoring drives. Ryan Mallett, who was upset this past week upon learning he’d be the backup, threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Jaelen Strong. In the fourth quarter, Tom Savage hit Chandler Worthy for a six-yard score.
Drew Brees marched the Saints 75 yards for a field goal on his lone series, completing his first four passes for 40 yards before his last two fell incomplete inside the 20.
St. Louis Rams running back Tre Mason, the likely starter while Todd Gurley rehabilitates from knee surgery, has been ruled out of the preseason finale with a right hamstring injury. Coach Jeff Fisher said that Mason, the primary starter last season, probably would be questionable for the opener Sept. 13 against the Seattle Seahawks.
Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson could be out for some time with a concussion, Coach Mike Pettine said. Johnson was hurt in the first half on an exhibition Saturday against Tampa Bay when he was hit by Buccaneers cornerback Mike Jenkins.