New York Jets: 5 Veterans Who Could Be Camp Casualties
No matter how much analysis and predictions are made before training camp, there is no way to determine what exactly will happen during the annual month-long seclusion.
For as many exciting new players emerge, just as many veterans need to move over to make room for the influx of young talent. As ruthless as it may seem to part ways with a player based on the results of a few weeks of camp, such practices are a necessary evil to remain competitive over the long term in the NFL.
Here are some veterans on the New York Jets who could find themselves on the chopping block come September.
In case it was not obvious enough, the late addition of Jason Babin has put the writing on the wall for the rest of Antwan Barnes' career in New York. Landing on the PUP list to start camp only puts him that much closer to eventually getting released altogether.
Based on Rex Ryan's comments made earlier in the offseason, the Jets were anticipating life without Barnes as he recovers from an ACL injury he suffered in Week 5 of 2013. They had already started working in Jermaine Cunningham with the second team in Barnes' place during spring practices.
It was going to be an uphill battle for Barnes to recover in time and well enough to earn his spot in camp. Now that his competition includes Jason Babin, the odds of the Jets keeping an extra veteran outside linebacker on the roster are nil.
There is a possibility of Barnes remaining on the PUP list into the season, but it may take another injury to make room for Barnes on the final 53-man roster if he ever does regain his health.
At first glance, former Oakland Raider Jacoby Ford seems to be entering a favorable situation for playing time as he joins what was one of the worst receiving (and returning) teams in football last year.
However, he will face a ton of competition from the influx of talent the Jets have brought in over the offseason. Not only will he have to beat out three drafted players for positioning on the receiver depth chart (in addition to the veterans already on the roster), but he will also have to ward off competition from Jalen Saunders for the punt returner job.
Ford has a chance to be this year's version of Antonio Garay, a reliable veteran defensive tackle brought in last year who was abruptly cut in camp because of the quality of young talent ahead of him. Ford is faced with a similar situation with so many other young players to fend off in camp.
While he does bring a level of experience that none of the younger players can replicate, the Jets will not hesitate to move forward with the younger player with more upside if all other factors are equal.
No longer on scholarship, this is a career-defining training camp for 2012 second-round pick Stephen Hill.
It is not uncommon for young receivers to struggle in their first two years, but Hill's lack of production reached unacceptable lows last season, getting benched in favor of midseason addition David Nelson by November.
With so many new faces in the receiving corps this year, the competition will only make it harder for Hill to have a role on the team.
Hill has a ton of ability as a unique blend of size and speed, but he still has a long way to go before he masters the intricacies of the receiver position. Attacking the ball at its highest point and developing as a route-runner are two key areas where he must make long strides in his game.
He appeared to be turning things around with what offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg called an "excellent" showing in spring practices, per Dom Cosentino of NJ.com, but he needs to carry over his momentum into camp if he wants to wear green and white this season.
A leftover project from the Mike Tannenbaum administration, there simply is no room for speedster Clyde Gates on the final roster.
Despite his inconsistencies as a route-runner and his bouts with concussion issues, Gates has actually shown noticeable development since getting added to the roster from the Miami Dolphins' practice squad, taking advantage of the Jets' thin receiving corps to find playing time.
However, now that the Jets have added a large influx of talent to the position (including three draft picks and two free agents), he is an accessory the Jets can afford to lose.
Gates brings the prized element of speed to the position, but he is too unrefined for a Jets team that needs players to help them win immediately. Gates may be improving, but he has simply run out of time.
It was not long ago that Josh Bush was competing with Antonio Allen for position on the bottom of the safety depth chart. Now, Bush faces roster elimination as he battles the likes of Rontez Miles, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Brandon Hardin for the final few spots.
The selection of Calvin Pryor in the first round has a rippling effect on depth chart, as there is now one fewer spot available for the special team-types to claim.
More alarming news for Bush is that his biggest competitor, Rontez Miles, has shown a lot of promise in camp through the first few days. Rich Cimini of ESPN notes that he could push Jaiquawn Jarrett for the fourth (and possibly final) spot.
The best hope for Bush to make the roster would be if the Jets carried a fifth safety, but with so many other players to squeeze in throughout the roster, the odds of Bush finding a spot on the final roster are bleak.