On Thursday night the New York Jets head down to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles in their last preseason game (7:30 EST). Most of the starters for both teams will not dress for the game, therefore it is all about the backup players jockeying for a position on the roster. Here are some players/scenarios to watch during the game.
1) Play of the running backs – After Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson the Jets have a question mark in terms of whom will take the third string running back position. Look for backs Joe McKnight, Chauncey Washington, and Danny Woodhead to all get a shot to showcase themselves. Many believe the spot will be given to McKnight, but at this point he has far from earned it.
2)Wide receiver competition- With the departure of Laveranues Coles the Jets opened up the competition for the third,fourth, and fifth string wide receiver positions (Holmes is suspended first 4 weeks). Look for players like Danny Woodhead, Brad Smith, Larry Taylor, and David Clowney to get ample opportunities in the passing game. At the same time these players will also have to earn their spots on special teams, as that may be the best way to finalize their place on the roster. I think Smith is a lock to make the team for obvious reasons, but Clowney could be walking a fine line.
3) Linebacker play- The injury to linebacker Calvin Pace has opened up opportunities for some of the Jets backup linebackers. Keep an eye on backers Kenwin Cummings, Jamal Westerman, Lance Laury, and Tim Knicky as they try to make an impression on the coaching staff. As with the receivers, these guys will also be responsible for holding their own on special teams as well.
4) Quarterbacks- Rex Ryan has repeatedly stated that veteran Mark Brunell is the second string quarterback for the Jets. Based on Brunell’s performance thus far many are starting to wonder if Kellen Clemens can take over that spot if he performs at a higher level. I continue to think that Gang Green dropped the ball with the handling of the quarterback position and hope it does not come back to haunt them in the end.
5) Tight end battle- As of now the Jets are carrying four tight ends (Keller, Hartsock,Mulligan,Cumberland) which has raised many eyebrows in terms of roster composition. Ryan has stated that the team will be keeping all four on the roster, but that could be posturing in terms of trying to negotiate a trade. Keep an eye on this position, in both the passing and running games.
One sidenote for the game: Quarterback Mark Sanchez will be given the chance to call some offensive plays during the game. It will be interesting to see if Sanchez opens it up or follows Ryan’s “ground and pound” philosophy. Either way I think it is a great idea by Rex, and could help the young quarterback learn a thing or two.