Williams, listed as questionable with a calf injury, was declared inactive Sunday after a pregame workout at MetLife Stadium. It was a long shot, considering he didn’t practice during the week, but the Jets (7-6) had held out hope for their top defensive player.
Williams, who has a career-high 11 sacks, will miss his first game of the season. To replace him, the Jets elevated defensive tackle Tanzel Smart from the practice squad on Saturday. Sheldon Rankins and Nathan Shepherd are expected to start at defensive tackle in the 4-3 front.
Williams, 24, was injured last Sunday against the Buffalo Bills in the first half and didn’t return to the game.
“He’s impossible to replace just because he’s playing at such an elite level, but we do have tremendous depth in that group,” defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said during the week.
The Jets enter the game ranked third in yards allowed, a dramatic improvement from last season (32nd). Williams’ emergence is one of the big reasons.