The Jets go deep into training camp. They are in their fourth week of training and their second preseason game will take place on Monday against the Falcons.
It looks like a good time for a projection of 53 players.
The good news for the Jets is that this drill is much tougher this year than any recent year I can remember. There were a few years where I first ran through the 53 player roster and only found 35 players. This year, there were some tough decisions to make.
Here’s an overview of what I’m expecting right now and some thoughts on each position:
QB (3): Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco, Mike White
This one got a lot easier after Wilson’s injury on Friday. There had been a question about whether the Jets would have three quarterbacks on their roster. Now they have to.
AR (4): Michael Carter, Breece Hall, Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson
The end is near for 2020 draft pick La’Mical Perine, who had some good times in training camp. This position is just too crowded. Unless there is a top-four injury, he is history. Undrafted rookie Zonovan Knight had a very strong camp and should land on the practice squad.
WR (5): Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, Garrett Wilson, Braxton Berrios, Jeff Smith
The first four are locks. Smith takes advantage of Denzel Mims because he plays special teams. The Jets are trying to involve the Mims in special teams, but I’m skeptical that will actually happen. It wouldn’t be surprising if Mims was traded before the final cuts. Calvin Jackson was impressive. He should have a spot on the practice squad.
TE (4): CJ Uzomah, Tyler Conklin, Jeremy Ruckert, Kenny Yeboah
The first three are new acquisitions that will definitely be part of the team. I’ll give Yeboah the nod over Trevon Wesco because of special teams. Ruckert can also replace Wesco as the primary blocking tight end.
OL (9): Duane Brown, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Laken Tomlinson, Connor McGovern, George Fant, Dan Feeney, Max Mitchell, Conor McDermott, Chuma Edoga
I probably have one too many here, but I think Mitchell will be inactive every game. I just don’t think the fourth-round pick is ready. Feeney can play guard and center. McDermott can play tackle and guard. Edoga may be the odd man out, but the Jets will likely hang on to him as tackle insurance.
DL (10): Quinnen Williams, Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers, Sheldon Rankins, Solomon Thomas, Jermaine Johnson, Jacob Martin, Micheal Clemons, Bryce Huff, Nathan Shepherd
This is the most difficult position to understand in the team. The Jets have great depth on the defensive line. This will lead to the removal of some good players. Veteran Vinny Curry battled a hamstring injury in camp and he could be cut. Coaches love Huff, but he could be caught up in a numbers game.
LB (5): CJ Mosley, Quincy Williams, Kwon Alexander, Jamien Sherwood, Hamsah Nasirildeen
The starters are set, but there are questions about depth at this position. The addition of Alexander certainly helped. He will start in base defense. Sherwood and Nasirildeen are in just their second season, moving from safety to linebacker. They are also special team contributors. Marcell Harris was playing a lot before Alexander arrived and Del’Shawn Phillips is a favorite of the coaching staff, but I think both will be cut.
DC (6): Sauce Gardner, DJ Reed, Michael Carter II, Bryce Hall, Brandin Echols, Justin Hardee
That position has improved significantly this offseason, and the trickle down effect is clear. Hall and Echols have gone from starters to substitutes, and players who were substitutes last year will now land on the practice squad. Hardee is a special teams ace. Javelin Guidry is on the bubble for me. He could be the nickel replacement for Carter, but I just couldn’t get him in. It wouldn’t be surprising, though, if he stays.
S (4): Jordan Whitehead, Lamarcus Joyner, Jason Pinnock, Ashtyn Davis
Whitehead is the only sure thing here. Joyner had a disappointing camp, and you have to wonder if the Jets would consider replacing him. Pinnock has been playing well and feels like a rising player. Davis is hanging by a thread, as are several members of the 2020 draft class. Elijah Riley and Will Parks had some good times, but I don’t see the Jets keeping too many safeties.
ST (3): Greg Zuerlein (kicker), Braden Mann (kicker), Thomas Hennessy (long snapper)
The only issue here is kicker. Eddy Pineiro now takes care of the tightness of the back, and that gives Zuerlein the advantage. It was a good competition, but I’m going with Zuerlein.
A welcome return
Friday night’s Jets-Eagles postgame was meaningful for those of us who cover the Jets as we were back in the locker room for the first time since the end of the 2019 season. I know the fans don’t don’t care much about what the media is going through, but being in the locker room after two years away due to COVID restrictions was important.
When I drove home from Philadelphia, I was convinced that Wilson’s injury was not serious because of what I saw in the locker room. The players were upbeat, the music was deafening and the guys were joking. I’ve been in the locker room after losing a player for the season, and that certainly wasn’t it.
These are the kinds of ideas that have been lost without access to the locker room. It was difficult to get an idea of the team. In 2020, when the Jets started 0-13, people were asking about the vibe around the team. I could guess it wasn’t good, but it wasn’t the same as being in front of guys and being able to talk it over with them. It was hard to assess if they had packed everything for the season as we couldn’t see up close whether they had given up.
That’s what made Friday a welcome return. I can now look forward to a regular season where we can go into the locker room during the week and talk to the players. It improves coverage and helps us let fans know what’s really going on.
The statistics are so
Joe Flacco is in line to start the season opener against the Ravens with Zach Wilson recovering from knee surgery. Here’s how Flacco has fared in the past three seasons since leaving the Ravens. He played for the Broncos (2019) and Jets (2020, 2021) and is 2-11 as a starter:
62.1 comp. pct.
86.4 passer rating
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