For the New York Jets to exceed expectations this season, help will have to come from unexpected sources. Fortunately, that may very well be happening. Many players having the best starts in camp are either undrafted free agents or those fighting their way up the depth chart.
This is evident in two critical areas: running back and wide receiver.
As the Jets' camp opened, running back was considered to be a relatively strong offensive skill position. Wide receiver was considered to be weak. However, Chris Ivory's hamstring injury and Mike Goodson's absence have cost the unit its strongest members and, combined with Joe McKnight's chronic injuries and recent legal issues, needed depth. The Jets brought in new blood, Chad Spann and Mossis Madu, to fill the ranks.
Meanwhile, Bilal Powell, previously regarded as a backup at best, has emerged as a legitimate contender for the No. 1 job.
In contrast to the running back position, wide receiver was supposedly undermanned and underperforming. The Jets' top receiver, Santonio Holmes, has yet to step on the field after his Lisfranc foot injury. In minicamp, dropped passes were more often the rule than the exception.
However, once camp opened, players like Stephen Hill, Clyde Gates, Ryan Spadola and Vidal Hazelton have stepped up their game. If this improvement continues in preseason games, head coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg may find it difficult to release some of these guys. It's a happy dilemma to face.
Let's meet some players who may reshape the Jets' depth chart between now and the season opener.
Source: Green & White scrimmage: JetsNation.com The Official Green & White Scrimmage Thread (Note: this link goes to the thread's fifth page, where the scrimmage description begins.)