5 New York Jets Who Will Steal Roster Spots in Training Camp
As the New York Jets get ready for their first preseason game of 2014, several rookies and camp invitees are preparing to showcase their talents in an effort to increase their chances of earning spots on the final 53-man roster.
The Jets have been plagued by injury early on in camp, immediately testing the depth of a revamped roster that remains thin at several key areas. New York boasts a retooled cast of playmakers in 2014 but lacks depth at offensive line, wide receiver and cornerback.
For the Jets to improve upon their 8-8 mark from 2013, many under-the-radar offseason pickups need to solidify themselves as potential contributors.
A decent chunk of the media brigade surrounding the Jets this summer remain concentrated on the so-called "quarterback competition," although second-year QB Geno Smith appears to have a stranglehold on the job, despite up-and-down performances in team drills.
The most intriguing positional battles in camp are happening at the back end of the Jets' current depth chart, where some players are thriving in underdog roles as they collectively attempt to steal roster spots.
The following slideshow highlights five players in Jets camp who will steal spots on the final roster:
5. Matt Simms (QB)
When the Jets opted to select former Clemson standout Tajh Boyd in the sixth round of this year's draft, it appeared as though 2013 training camp sensation Matt Simms was bound for the waiver wire.
That might not be the case.
According to Rich Cimini of ESPN New York, Boyd remains somewhat of a long shot to claim the Jets' No. 3 slot on the quarterback depth chart. At 6'1'' and 225 pounds, Boyd is undersized for his position, although he flaunts a strong arm and above-average ability to elude pass-rushers.
Although Boyd flaunts some upside, J.P. Pelzman of NorthJersey.com claims Simms holds the edge for the final QB spot on the roster to date. Simms has perhaps benefited from the arrival of Boyd, fueling strong camp performance.
General manager John Idzik preaches competition in camp, a strategy of which could account for the sudden progression of pass-rusher Quinton Coples, among other players.
Simms completed 16 of 31 pass attempts for 156 yards and one touchdown against one interception in parts of three games last season.
4. Oday Aboushi (OG)
Second-year offensive lineman Oday Aboushi wasn't thought to be a serious contender for significant playing time at the start of training camp but has showcased supreme agility and solid blocking ability through the first two weeks of practice.
Aboushi, a 308-pound converted guard out of Virginia, was drafted by the Jets in the fifth round in 2013. His development has been a project for Jets coaches, although he's now taking enormous strides toward potentially becoming a future starter.
Aboushi's progression deepens the Jets' limited depth on the offensive line.
It also adds intrigue to a position that was completely stripped of starting-caliber talent after the conclusion of the 2012 campaign.
Aboushi is currently slotted behind former third-round pick Brian Winters at left guard on the Jets' preseason depth chart but could create a platoon-type situation if he continues to impress.
3. T.J. Barnes (DT)
The Jets' best positional unit is defensive line, where franchise player Muhammad Wilkerson and 2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year Sheldon Richardson help make up one of the most dominant run defenses in the league. The additional emergence of Damon "Big Snacks" Harrison at nose tackle made the Jets a force to be reckoned with last season.
Now, former undrafted free-agent defensive tackle T.J. Barnes is trying to become the next piece of the puzzle.
Barnes, a whopping 370-pound run-stuffing machine, has had difficulty honing his technique from the point. As Dom Cosentino of NJ.com witnessed, ascending O-lineman Dakota Dozier recently showcased his ability to bully an oversized Barnes.
Dozier is making his own case to earn a roster spot while Barnes attempts to make a name for himself. The former Georgia Tech DT was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars prior to the start of the 2013 regular season.
Barnes has yet to make a noticeable impact in camp but boasts the brute force needed to become an eventual contributor on a defense that prides itself on its ability to clog the trenches.
2. Alex Green (RB)
The Jets' crowded backfield is headlined by the two-dreaded monster, but former Green Bay Packers starting halfback Alex Green is hoping to add another head to New York's run-first attack on offense.
Green has averaged just 3.4 yards per carry on 149 career rushing attempts, failing to find paydirt. He totaled 43 yards from scrimmage on 13 touches for the Jets in 2013, manning the final spot on the depth chart at running back.
Green could be bound for a similar role this season but has been seemingly passed up for offseason pickup Daryl Richardson, who has also endured his fair share of struggles through the first two seasons of his career.
Richardson offers more upside than Green, although the latter is more familiar with Marty Mornhinweg's offense having spent an entire season with the Jets last year.
According to Daryl Slater of NJ.com, Green has battled chest pain early on in camp, depleting his chances of getting second- and third-team reps.
Green will continue to battle Richardson for the final spot on the Jets roster at running back. Thursday's preseason opener will be his first opportunity to outplay his counterpart.
1. Quincy Enunwa (WR)
According to Rich Cimini of ESPN New York, the Jets could be without rookie receiver Shaq Evans for the entirety of the 2014 season, creating an intriguing blend of newfound competition at wideout.
The biggest benefactor of Evans' unfortunate season-crippling shoulder injury is fellow rookie Quincy Enunwa, who has already missed a decent chunk of camp with a hip injury of his own.
According to Seth Walder of NY Daily News, Enunwa had been on the outside, looking in after succumbing to a hip problem early in camp. He was a hands-down practice squad candidate before Evans suffered what head coach Rex Ryan called a "significant injury."
The former Nebraska scoring machine is now back in the mix, assuming he can perform well during preseason action.
Enunwa recorded 51 catches for 753 yards, averaging a solid 14.8 yards per reception, with 12 touchdowns during his final collegiate season.
Enunwa will likely compete with Greg Salas for the final spot on the Jets' depth chart at receiver.