New York Jets: Updating the Jets' Biggest Training Camp Battles to Watch for
After a long offseason brought on by the loss of the New York Jets not making the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season, it is a great feeling to know that training camp is only a little more than a week away.
With the beginning of camp comes roster battles, scrimmages, two-a-days, hard knocks; all great things to look forward to.
This year the Jets have quite a few players that will be competing for spots on the depth chart for their September 9 opener against the Buffalo Bills. Since the beginning of camps is upon us and the beginning of the regular season is right around the corner, let’s take a look at some of the training camp battles to watch for at Florham Park.
As always, feedback is welcome. Enjoy!
Demario Davis vs. Josh Mauga
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Over the last few years the Jets have done a great job with their inside linebackers. They already have David Harris, who is a tackling machine that plays to his full potential day in and day out. Then there is Bart Scott, who has been a solid complimentary player to Harris.
As for their second-string players, there is a bit of a battle brewing over at Florham Park. This one is between rookie Demario Davis and third-year veteran Josh Mauga.
Last season Mauga began to show signs of potential, after being a player that no one really knew about. During a few games last season, minor injuries would sideline Bart Scott or David Harris and Mauga would come in and do a good job of not missing a beat.
By the end of the season, Mauga racked up 25 tackles and an interception. He is going to have to show a lot more in the preseason to beat the talented rookie.
Since being drafted, nothing but good things have been said about Demario Davis. The third-round pick out of Arkansas State has given no reason to have negative comments said about him; he is just what the Jets needed during the offseason.
With their pass rush on the decline last year, they needed a versatile linebacker who could get to the quarterback while being able to drop back into coverage if they need him to. Davis has those qualities; his great footwork allows him to cover receivers and carry them up to the secondary, his speed allows him to keep up with them and burst pass offensive lineman if they need a sack and he has a great ability to find the ball.
Davis was definitely a steal in the third round, but while everything that has been said and expected of him sounds great, he will need to perform this offseason and show that he is capable of all that has been said, still giving Mauga a chance to be higher than Davis at the start of the season. This should be an interesting battle as training camp begins on July 31.
Stephen Hill vs. Chaz Schilens vs. Patrick Turner
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Aside from Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley, the depth chart positions for the rest of the wide receivers on the New York Jets are not set. Stephen Hill, Patrick Turner and Chaz Schilens, are the top three competing to be a starter come September.
Stephen Hill was one of the Jets draft selections this year. They traded up a few picks in the second round to get the talented man out of Georgia Tech. After the 2011 season, the Jets did not intend to bring back Plaxico Burress, leaving them in need of a big receiver that could be a nice red-zone target.
The Jets got exactly that and possibly more.
Following being drafted, Hill already had a positive attitude displaying that he was ready to get to work. His skill speaks for itself, he has good speed to run deep routes if the Jets need him to, and standing tall at 6'4", he will be a great target when the Jets are in the red zone.
Next is Patrick Turner. Turner is entering his fourth year with Jets, and has been has been a solid “12 man” for the offense. In 2011 he did not see a lot of playing time as Jeremy Kerley impressed everybody on the team and became a starter, but over the course of the season he reeled in eight receptions for 96 yards and one touchdown. Like Hill, Turner is another tall guy (6'5") but needs to impress this preseason if he wants to get the starting job and prove that he is more than a benchwarmer.
Meanwhile there is Chaz Schilens, another new member on this year’s Jets team. Schilens is a veteran entering his fifth season after playing with the Oakland Raiders for four seasons. Schilens is yet another red-zone target guy (6'4") who also has good speed.
Since he was drafted in 2008 during Al Davis’ "draft the fastest guy" days, there is no doubt that Schilens is fast. In fact, during the 2008 NFL combine, he ran a 4.33 40-yard dash. Schilens' experience plus good speed may give him the edge against these two younger players, but who knows how these three will perform once preseason starts, so keep you eyes on these guys and see how it turns out.
Terrance Ganaway vs. Bilal Powell
Bilal Powell during his college days at Lousiville.
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This will be one of the least interesting battles on this list as these two young running backs fight for the third-string running back spot. With the loss of LaDainian Tomlinson to retirement, the Jets will be looking at these two to add some depth by backing up Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight.
Terrance Ganaway was the Jets’ sixth-round pick during this year’s draft. In terms of players the Jets already have, Ganaway is another Shonn Greene. He is a heavy-set guy coming in at 240 pounds, who like Greene can run with power, making him hard to tackle when not fully wrapped up.
Meanwhile there is last year’s addition, Bilal Powell. Powell showed off his potential during last year’s preseason and has had a bit of regular-season experience when both Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson suffered injuries against the Denver Broncos. Unlike Ganaway, Powell is able to combine power and speed by hitting the holes hard, and then turning on the jets when he hits the secondary.
It is likely the Jets will keep Powell on their final depth chart, but keep your eyes on these two as they fight for that third and final spot.
LaRon Landry vs. Eric Smith
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For years, the Jets have been having woes with their safeties. In 2010 and 2011, they lost their commander of the secondary, Jim Leonhard, to season-ending leg injuries in the middle of each season. Then there was Eric Smith, who was loved by coaches but not by fans and critics, who saw how badly he would mess up during games.
This year the Jets are hoping for a different story when it comes to their safeties. Jim Leonhard will not be returning, instead they added Yeremiah Bell and added two rookies through the draft.
As for strong safety, Eric Smith has managed to hold onto his spot on the Jets roster, but looks like he is going to lose his No. 1 spot on the depth chart to former Redskins safety LaRon Landry. The Jets brought in the veteran to hopefully stop the coverage problems they dealt with in 2011, especially against tight ends.
As for why this will be a position battle this training camp, neither player has truly been declared as a starter. ESPN’s Rich Cimini has Landry projected as the starter, but there is still a chance that Smith snags the spot. The one problem with Landry is that he cannot seem to stay healthy. Over the last two seasons, he has missed 15 games and is coming off of an Achilles injury. If Landry begins to slip up because of his pre-existing injury, Eric Smith may be able to sneak back into the starting strong safety role.
Mark Sanchez vs. Tim Tebow
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From day one, everybody is going to have their eyes on these two. While they are on this list, I am not saying that Mark Sanchez is going to lose his starting job to Tim Tebow during the preseason or even during the season; but there is no doubt that Sanchez-Tebow comparisons will be made and speculation as to who the starting quarterback should be will go on all throughout the preseason.
The reality is, although the Jets brought in Tim Tebow to be a backup quarterback and help run the Wildcat, that does not mean it will stay that way.
Behind all of his “excitement” and talk of doing whatever he can to help the team, there is a guy that continuously works to improve his trade. He is going to do that with the Jets even if it means he becomes better than Sanchez.
Nobody’s goal when they are in the NFL is to be a backup quarterback, and the same goes for Tebow. Even when he was drafted by Denver, he began to work on throwing mechanics to become a better quarterback and he is going to continue to work on improving.
The Jets may be standing by their man Mark Sanchez right now, but as much as they want to say there is not going to be a training camp battle between Sanchez and Tebow, it’s pretty inevitable.