On Monday night the New York Jets open up their preseason with a match-up against the Houston Texans in Reliant Stadium (8 p.m. EST, ESPN). This game will feature extensive playing time for the second and third string units as the starters are only expected to play for the first quarter. As with every preseason game the goal is for the team to walk away relatively healthy while putting together enough game tape to evaluate players.
Offensive line play- Center Nick Mangold and guard Brandon Moore have already been ruled out for this game which means Robert Turner and Vlad Ducasse will be running with the first team offensive line. Keep an eye on the performance of the offensive line and their ability to win the battles in the trenches.
Rookie quarterback– Backup quarterback Mark Brunell will be sidelined for this game leaving a substantial amount of playing time for rookie quarterback Greg McElroy. Based on the brief amount of practice time due to the lockout I would not be surprised to see a very vanilla offensive game plan built around the running game. Look for the Jets to install a simple, short passing game to get the young quarterback acclimated to the speed of the game.
Wide receiver battles- The New York Jets have several young receivers that are either fighting for playing time or a roster spot. Rookie Jeremy Kerley has been a standout in training camp while Michael Campbell, Logan Payne, and Patrick Turner have been raising some eyebrows as well. It will be interesting to see how the young receivers do with a rookie quarterback as their practice time together has been limited. Note: Plaxico Burress has been ruled out for this game.
Secondary play- The Jets will be looking to several young players to take on larger roles in the secondary. Defensive backs Marquice Cole, Dwight Lowery, Emanuel Cook, and Kyle Wilson all will be given ample opportunity to stake their claim for more playing time.
Defensive line play-The Jets defensive line is undergoing a bit of a youth movement as Gang Green is adding several young players to the rotation. Rookies Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis along with Ropati Pitoitua and Marcus Dixon will be given a decent amount of playing time to learn the defensive schemes. In terms of performance you would like to see the linemen hold their own at the line of scrimmage, shedding blocks, and collapsing the pocket.
Linebacker competition- Gang Green has several young linebackers that are fighting to make the roster. Keep an eye on training camp standout Nick Bellore as well as Brashton Satele and Josh Mauga. If none of these young backers make an impression the Jets could look to free agency for some insurance.
Punters- Right now the Jets have open competition between Chris Bryan and T.J. Conley for the starting punter position. Which punter will claim the starting spot?
Placekickers– The Jets are having a position battle between the incumbent Nick Folk and Nick Novak for the starting placekicker spot. Early in camp Novak has outperformed Folk, but the competition is far from over.
Return game- The Jets will be looking to rookie Jeremy Kerley and second-year player Kyle Wilson to take over the return game. Can these young players consistently catch the ball and make plays in the return game? If not, the Jets may look to veterans Jim Leonhard and Antonio Cromartie to take over some of the responsibilities.