On Saturday night the New York Jets travel south to take on the Carolina Panthers in their second preseason game (8pm EST). The Jets are coming off of a loss last week where their first string unit flashed signs of dominance, but the 2nd and 3rd stringers played mediocre at best. This week the spotlight will be on the backup units as they will see extensive playing time, with the starters slated to only play the first quarter. Here are some things to keep an eye on during Saturday night’s game.
1) Secondary play- Last week the Jets second string pass defense was lit up by the New York Giants. Gang Green is hoping to see improved play and communication throughout the secondary. Players like Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman need to show the Jets brass they can hold their own, especially with Darrelle Revis continuing to holdout. As of this point there is some growing concern about the depth in the Jets secondary.
2) Linebacker depth- The Jets have one of the best starting linebacker units in the AFC, but have some issues when it comes to depth. Gang Green needs to find some backers that can hold the fort down when the injury bug hits. Players like Kenwin Cummings, Jamaal Westerman, Lance Laury, and Tim Knicky are being given a chance to shine, now lets see if they can make an impact.
3) Vernon Gholston- Another game and another chance for VG to show the world that he can make plays in the NFL. Rex Ryan continues to believe in Vernon, but as of this point he remains the only one.
4) Joe McKnight- The rookie running back from USC has been a lightning rod for criticism, whether it is for conditioning, lack of effort, or mental mistakes. It is surprising the amount of attention that this kid has received and will be interesting to see how he bounces back. McKnight should get plenty of snaps on Saturday night to show off some of his talents.
5) Laveranues Coles- LC was signed by the Jets as an insurance policy while Santonio Holmes serves his 4-game suspension. Coles should see substantial playing time and needs to play well in order to retain his spot on the team. Also keep an eye on the younger receivers like David Clowney and Aundrae Allison.
6) Kellen Clemens- The New York Jets are reportedly shopping quarterback Kellen Clemens as they appear satisfied with Mark Brunell as the backup to Mark Sanchez. It will be interesting to see how much playing time both of the gunslingers receive.
7) Special teams play- For many young players the only way to get a roster spot is to make an impression on special teams. Keep an eye on the kick coverage as that was one of the areas the Jets struggled last year.
8) Vlad Ducasse- The rookie offensive lineman from UMass continues to battle Matt Slauson for the starting left guard position. As of this point Slauson is entrenched as the starter, but some solid performances by the rookie could go a long way for his development.
New York Jets forum discussion thread.