New York Jets: What to Watch for in Preseason Game vs. Cincinnati Bengals

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New York Jets: What to Watch for in Preseason Game vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

The preseason is all about evaluation, and not at all about the final score.

As such, we won't be watching for the game plan, but instead, we'll be watching individual performances.

In the specific case of the New York Jets, that includes a dubious first-round pick and a wide receiving corps that has come under fire this offseason (from their own cornerback, no less).

So here are some of the key things to watch in tonight's preseason showdown against the Cincinnati Bengals.

 

Quinton Coples

The Jets threw everyone a curve ball when they selected defensive lineman Quinton Coples ahead of outside linebacker Melvin Ingram in the first round. But now, we get to see why.

Coples will be worked into the mix on passing downs to start and could earn a role in the base defense with time.

"We'll work it from back to front," defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said of Coples' role according to NJ.com. "He'll be a third-down guy, similar to [defensive end Aaron] Maybin. Get him out there in passing situations and then work him into the base defense. Let him be a back-up for the guys in base, but keep his plate small."

Essentially, they don't want to overload him at first.

He's had a quiet camp, but has been up-and-down thus far. He failed to get pressure when locked up on Vladimir Ducasse one day, but had two sacks on Tim Tebow another day. 

 

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Tim Tebow's Snaps

We've heard the hype train all offseason long in regard to what Tim Tebow's role will be with the offense, and also with the special teams.

Now, the hype train stops in Cincinnati. The Jets did a good job of creating smokescreens in regard to Tebow's role this offseason: Will he be a red-zone quarterback? A personal punt protector? A Wildcat/read-option quarterback? Some combination of the three, or even more?

All eyes will be on where and when Tebow gets his snaps.

 

Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Wide Receivers

Now we'll get to find out if Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie really is the Jets' second-best receiver.

With wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley both injured, receivers Stephen Hill, Patrick Turner and Chaz Schilens will get a chance to make a name for themselves. 

The Jets would love if one of two of those receivers would step up and give the offense reason for hope.

Seventh-rounder Jordan White has looked good in camp and could set himself apart with a solid performance tonight. Other bubble players like Eron Riley have an opportunity to steal a roster spot as well. 

But if none of them step up, that may not bode well for the Jets offense. That is, unless the running game steps up.

Which reminds me...

 

Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE
Bilal Powell

Combine a lockout-shortened offseason in 2011 with the fact that Bilal Powell only played one year at running back in college, and you have a good idea of why Powell didn't play much in 2011 (27 snaps). 

Powell has earned reps with the first-team offense for his performances in practice and should get some carries early on against the Bengals.

There are questions as to whether Shonn Greene can handle the burden of being the bell cow, so we'll be watching closely if Powell can do enough to prove he should be the spell back for Greene.

 

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Right Tackle

All eyes will be on the position where the Jets struggled perhaps more than any other on the Jets roster last year.

Only problem is, those eyes won't get to see the person responsible for those struggles, as it appears right tackle Wayne Hunter will not play in tonight's game, according to NJ.com.

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Hunter gave up 11 sacks last year. The Jets were so confident in Hunter's ability to hold down the right side of the line that they traded for right tackle Jeff Otah from the Panthers, who was quite literally on his last legs.

Otah failed two physicals, and thus the trade was voided, so now, the Jets are back at square one with their right tackle.

It looks like Austin Howard will fill in at right tackle. Could he be any worse than Hunter? Probably not. Will he play well enough in the preseason to take Hunter's spot? Probably not. Still, it's worth watching what the Jets have in terms of backup plans at the position.

 

Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. 

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