New York Jets Most Positive Preseason Surprises so Far
The final 53-man roster will be announced in just under two weeks as the New York Jets look toward a fresh start in 2013.
Training camp and the preseason always present an opportunity for undrafted free agents and second-tier players to prove themselves worthy of earning spots on an NFL roster.
The Jets entered camp with a multitude of question marks across the depth chart, stemming from an offseason overhaul led by new general manager John Idzik in an effort to fix the team's dire salary cap situation.
The Jets noticeably lacked playmakers on offense when training camp commenced, although some players have risen to the occasion. In addition, blundering uncertainty at safety was initially a severe concern.
Head coach Rex Ryan also revamped a formerly formidable defense with an emphasis on youth, granting starting opportunities to role players.
The following slideshow examines the Jets' most positive preseason surprises so far:
Tommy Bohanon (FB)
Seventh-round pick Tommy Bohanon endured a hard-nosed battle with veteran Lex Hilliard in training camp for the right to earn a starting spot at fullback.
Since then, Bohanon has demonstrated the athletic prowess necessary to be an every-down blocker in new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg's offense.
In addition, Bohanon is an able pass-catcher, providing an added element to the Jets' West Coast attack. Bohanon has caught just two passes for seven yards in preseason action, but he has performed well as a receiver on the practice field.
The Jets haven't featured a durable fullback since Tony Richardson, who was released in September 2010. Richardson was a 15-year veteran that was overtaken by John Conner, famously dubbed the "Terminator" by Ryan.
Bohanon provides a new-found spark at a dormant position for the Jets and should be in the backfield when the Jets take the field in Week 1.
Konrad Reuland (TE)
Backup tight end Konrad Reuland was on the bubble when training camp commenced.
He was slotted ahead of former rugby stud Hayden Smith on the Jets' depth chart, but hadn't demonstrated the outstanding ability necessary to secure a roster spot.
Reuland performed well in camp, though. He's demonstrated value as a versatile run-blocker and route-runner. At 6'5'' and 260 pounds, he has the size needed to be a potential scoring threat in the red zone.
Reuland has been targeted three times so far in the preseason. He recorded a 31-yard reception against the Jaguars on Saturday, showcasing natural strength while breaking free of defenders for a big gain.
Reuland also almost scooped a muffed punt for a touchdown, but was taken down inside the five-yard line.
Tight end was a position of relative concern for the Jets entering camp. But Jeff Cumberland and Reuland have exceeded outsiders' expectations.
Reuland should see an increase in playing time in 2013.
The third-year tight end pulled down just 11 catches for 83 yards last season, but has developed into a solid all-round player.
Clyde Gates (WR)
Third-year receiver Clyde Gates did a solid job as the Jets' kick returner against the Jaguars in the absence of Joe McKnight, who continues to battle post-head injury symptoms.
McKnight, who is one of the best kick returners in the NFL, would likely be on the bubble if speed back Mike Goodson had actually attended camp.
Gates gave the Jets stellar field position on three occasions, totaling 100 return yards while averaging 33.3 yards per attempt.
In addition, Gates got off to a hot start in camp, outshining his teammates while earning substantial praise from the coaching brass.
Gates wasn't on anybody's radar as a potential game-changer when camp began, but has featured a dynamic skill set that should help spark the Jets offense, which ranked 28th in the NFL last season.
Gates has recorded three receptions for 39 yards on five targets during limited action in the preseason.
Jaiquawn Jarrett (FS)
Late-round draft picks Antonio Allen and Josh Bush were touted as main candidates to start opposite veteran Dawan Landry at safety at the beginning of camp.
But former Eagles' second-round pick Jaiquawn Jarrett has snagged coaching praise, earning a promotion on the depth chart.
Jarrett hasn't been spectacular, but he has performed good enough to gain an edge in the ongoing competition at safety.
Jarrett had three solo tackles and a QB hit against the Lions, but struggled in space on completed pass attempts in the face of the Jaguars' hurry-up offense.
He had just one tackle against Jacksonville, leaving the door open for Allen to make a late push for the starting spot.
Jarrett has totaled just 15 tackles and two assists in two seasons as a pro, but could be on the verge of starting status.
Ryan Spadola (WR)
Undrafted rookie receiver Ryan Spadola had a solid showing against the Jaguars, pulling down three catches for 49 yards.
Spadola is the Jets' biggest surprise through the first two weeks of the preseason and has a serious chance to make the final 53-man roster; shades of Wayne Chrebet in 1995.
Zach Rogers, another undrafted free agent, was thought to be a serious contender for a roster spot on the depth chart when camp started.
Since then, Spadola has jumped into the forefront.
Spadola attended Lehigh, where he caught 57 passes for 851 yards and four touchdowns during his senior season while battling mononucleosis, according to CBS Sports.
He broke the Patriot League record for receiving yards in a single season during his junior year when he racked-up 96 catches for 1,614 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Spadola will continue to battle for a spot on the Jets' depth chart as the preseason progresses. A good performance against the Giants on Saturday could ultimately etch his name on the final roster.
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