FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The Doctor is back in — on the football field.
Veteran guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif signed with the Jets' practice squad Friday, giving New York some depth on a unit hit hard by injuries this season.
Duvernay-Tardif stepped away from football after spending the last two months of last season with the Jets so he could begin working on his medical residency program at a Montreal-area hospital.
“It's phenomenal,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said of Duvernay-Tardif balancing both football and his medical education.
The 31-year-old offensive lineman opted out of the 2020 season while with Kansas City to work on the front lines of the pandemic as an orderly at a long-term care facility in Montreal. Midway through last season, Duvernay-Tardif chose to return to football and was traded from Kansas City to New York in November 2021.
Duvernay-Tardif played in eight games with the Jets, including seven starts at right guard. Despite playing well in his comeback, he put his NFL career on hold again during the offseason to focus on his medical career and become a physician. Duvernay-Tardif, an unrestricted free agent, told The Canadian Press in June he wasn't retiring from football and would reassess his interest in the game in the fall.
“I’m going to prioritize medicine ... and we’ll see in September if there’s a fit,” Duvernay-Tardif told CP. “After eight years in the NFL, and I don’t want to sound pretentious by saying this, but I think I’ve earned the right to do what’s best for me and not just for football and kind of bet on myself a little bit."
He now will put aside his residency and rejoin the Jets, who worked him out at their facility Wednesday before signing him. Duvernay-Tardif is a welcome addition to an offensive line that needs some healthy bodies as backups.
Tackle Mekhi Becton and guard/tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker are both out for the season with injuries. Tackles George Fant and Max Mitchell are currently on injured reserve, and starting left tackle Duane Brown is playing through a shoulder injury after missing the first four games of the season.
“He looks good,” Saleh said. “To add a veteran presence, someone who knows our system, someone who has played and started NFL games in this division, knows what it's like, knows our language, to be able to add that is definitely a plus.”
The Jets released offensive lineman Myron Cunningham from the practice squad to make room for Duvernay-Tardif.
NOTES: Saleh said WR Corey Davis (knee) was ruled out for a third straight game, but the Jets are optimistic he will return next week. ... DT Sheldon Rankins is also out, as expected, with an elbow injury. ... RG Nate Herbig is listed as questionable with an injured shin, but Saleh said he'll play. ... Saleh wore a University of Virginia shirt during his news conference before practice in honor of the three Cavaliers football players shot and killed Sunday night. “Just an absolute tragedy,” Saleh said. "Hopefully, one day, we get all this nonsense fixed.”
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Dennis Waszak Jr., The Associated Press