Training Camp Preview: Running Backs
Plenty of buzz should be humming around the running back group this training camp in Florham Park. This is possibly one of the most talented groups on the entire team given the addition of Le’Veon Bell and the return of underrated Bilal Powell. There are some new legs in the bunch and some familiar household names that will need to take a major step in order to get more snaps during the regular season. Lets take a deeper look on how strong the Jets running game can be in 2019.
Le’Veon Bell: Bell is one of the biggest and best moves made this off-season. There is so much he can bring to the table for this offense and the young quarterback Sam Darnold. Most know Bell for his patient run style but his receiving ability might be the biggest impact he brings to this offense. His route tree is not as extensive as the normal Slot receiver but it’s his ability after the catch that will keep the chains moving. He can also create opportunities for others as a decoy as well. All teams will have to draw up a sturdy game plan for number twenty-six. With all eyes on Bell, others will have plenty of opportunities to excel.
Bilal Powell: An oldie but a goodie. This will be Powell’s ninth year as a Jet and the veteran is coming back from a neck injury that cut his 2018 season short. Powell came in for a one day workout and walked away with a 1 year team- friendly deal of $930K plus a $90K signing bonus. This move bodes well for the offense as the Jets will have a solid back up option behind Bell. This gives Adam Gase the option to rotate his running backs and keep everyone fresh throughout the season. Powell can run well between the tackles and provides another pass-catching back who also excels in pass protection.
Elijah McGuire: The former Ragin’ Cajun will be entering his 3rd year on his rookie deal and no other running back will face as much pressure as #25. It’s a crowded room with a lot of talent and McGuire needs to do everything possible to impress Adam Gase. Many have speculated that he may be the odd man out if the Jets decide to roll with 3 or 4 backs this season. McGuire has periodically flashed his skill set his production hasn’t been as consistent as you’d like to see. He did have the opportunity late in 2018 as Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell were sidelined with injuries. During his time as a starter, weeks 14-16, he averaged 73 all-purpose yards per game, leaving much room to be desired. This is definitely a make it or break it year for the young running back.
Trenton Cannon: Cannon is one of the fastest running backs in this group and that ability might secure him a roster spot. The second-year speedster made a niche for himself on special teams in his rookie year. Cannon excelled as a gunner on the kickoff squad and punt team. He did have some preseason troubles with a couple of fumbles and that made Brant Boyer hesitant to give him any reps as a return man. During the off-season, Boyer commented on Cannon, stating he looked much better in kick return drills but has not had any reps receiving punts. As long as Cannon can continue to impress as a special team player he should be fine when the 53-man roster cuts take place. He may even get some looks as a change of pace back in specific offensive packages.
A former Denver Bronco who split time between the Jets practice squad and active roster last season, Henderson has reportedly turned some heads at 1 Jets Drive with Connor Hughes of the Athletic reporting that Henderson appeared to be stealing some reps from Eli McGuire at times. The shifty back with a low center of gravity has some experience as a return man, something that never hurts when you’re trying to make the 53.
Dark Horse: Ty Montgomery
Like his running mate Le’veon Bell, Montgomery is one of the most versatile offensive weapons on this roster. He came into the league as a receiver for the Packers and was given the running back job due to injuries. Since 2016, Montgomery has found himself splitting carries in multiple time share situations. Not much has changed for him in New York but the Jets might utilize him more often as a Slot Receiver. A role in the passing game might be the most effective way to maximize his potential. Look for Montgomery to be the “Swiss army knife” of the offense. If the Jets can get him and Bell on the field at the same time it could create nightmares for opposing defenses. He also provides a nice safety blanket in the event injuries occur as an experienced, versatile runner.