With the 53-man roster needing to be finalized by 4 p.m. tomorrow, there will be some very difficult decisions for Rex Ryan and the Jets' coaching staff as they play the numbers game, and are forced to cut some players who perhaps deserved a shot on this team.
Below are my predictions for the 53-man roster that will be provided to the media tomorrow night, there may be some surprises, there may be some that you disagree with, so please use the comments section at the bottom of the page to voice your opinion on this and your own projected roster:
Mark Sanchez/Kellen Clemens/Eric Ainge
With our brief flirtation with Chris Pizzoti brought to a crushing end without him having thrown a single pass in preseason, this is perhaps the easiest position to call on the Jets. Ainge has shown improvements this preseason, but I'm not half as positive on his advancement as some Jets writers.
He has constantly underthrown receivers, and thankfully he has some players making heads up plays to cut their routes short and come back for the ball. He has improved however and I feel more comfortable with him as the third-string quarterback this year than I did last.
Other two places pretty much select themselves. Kellen Clemens has really not had a very impressive preseason, threw just two passes last night, went 0-for-2 with a interception, although it has to be said that the interception was on the receiver who bobbled the ball and not on Clemens. He has also been battling some elbow soreness over the past weak, and that is likely the reason we saw so little of him last night.
We of course have the number one guy, Mark Sanchez, who has looked very impressive this preseason, capped it off with a 5-for-5 for 67 yards and a touchdown in last nights final tune up. Comfortable with the quarterback situation, hopefully we won't have to look any further than Mark Sanchez during the season.
Running Backs (6)
Thomas Jones/Leon Washington/Shonn Greene/Tony Richardson/Jehuu Caulcrick/Danny Woodhead
We are really looking to run the ball this year, and that's why I have gone with six running backs where as I figure most rosters will go with just five.
We have the three main guaranteed places with Jones/Washington and Greene. Jones and Washington are all set, and look to be a dangerous combination of speed and power. Greene really hasn't seen much time this preseason due to injury, but the little glimpses we did get of him were promising.
Then we look at the two fullbacks in Richardson and Caulcrick. Richardson is one of the most under-rated players on this team, a great blocking back, and when asked he can also carry the ball (Seattle last year). Caulcrick will be his backup just in case.
Danny Woodhead is the sixth man, I just couldn't leave him out. His work ethic, his determination, his performance last night. A little man with big ambition, will do anything and everything to help this team win, can come in when the defences are worn down. I like the thought of having the luxury of Woodhead on a team that plans to run the ball as much as we do.
Tight End (3)
Dustin Keller/Ben Hartsock/Kareem Brown
This position looked to be one of need just days ago. We were looking at either carrying Brock or the pass catching Jack Simmons who can't catch the ball. Anyone think of Anthony Becht when they watched Simmons? He was released today after continuously dropping passes, latest one a wide open TD last night against the Eagles.
The Atlanta Falcons did us a huge favour when they decided to release Ben Hartsock, a very good, above-average blocking tight end. Exactly what this team needed. He was signed and will be out number one blocker on the end, he also commented last night that he can catch the ball as good as anyone else.
Kareem brown is still a work in progress, changing positions is always going to be difficult. So he needs time, but I like the signs, and his pass catching is improving, so I see us running with him this season.
Dustin Keller by season end will be one of the premier catching tight ends in the game. He still needs to work on his blocking but when you can create as many mis-matches as he does in the middle of the field. Watch out. Can see him being Sanchez's favourite target, especially in the end zone.
Wide Receiver (6)
Jerricho Cotchery/Chansi Stuckey/David Clowney/Brad Smith/Wallace Wright/Aundrae Allison
With the release of Marcus Henry today, we now only have seven receivers on the roster, and I'm pretty confident that we are going to run with five, so really it's a one-on-one battle for the final place.
First we have the starting pair of Cotchery and Stuckey, although I fully expect Stuckey to move inside to the slot when we move to the three wide receiver set. It's a position where his short area quickness can be utilized a lot more.
Who can catch the Clown? nobody has the answer. If there were a HOF for the preseason then Clowney would be in it. Absolutely lightning and will keep defences on their toes. Having his ability to stretch the field will also benefit the receivers underneath, Stuckey and Keller picking up those yards.
Brad Smith is still a work in progress, but he is progressing, and he is also the main component of any trick plays that Brian Schottenheimer designs, nice target, guaranteed a place on the roster.
Wallace Wright has not had the best preseason, but I still see him getting a roster spot. So it comes down to Britt David vs. Aundrae Allison. I have Allison getting the spot mainly down to his speed, and his ability to return punts. Allison has also shown better hands than Davis.
Offensive Line (8)
D’Brickashaw Ferguson/Damien Woody/Alan Faneca/Brandon Moore/Nick Mangold/Wayne Hunter/Robert Turner/Matt Slauson
There is really not much to say here, none of the players past the starting five fill me with any real confidence. Hunter has been beat in preseason and given up at least one sack maybe more.
Matt Slauson has been average, but then again you don't expect that much out of your seventh round draft selection. However the depth here is problematic, all our offensive lineman managed to play all 16 games last season. So the problem never came up.
I hope for our sakes that it's the same again this season
Defensive Line (8)
Shaun Ellis/Kris Jenkins/Marques Douglas/Mike DeVito/Howard Green/Sione Pouha/Ropati Pitoitua/Zach Potter
Shaun Ellis will miss the first game with gives Pitoitua a chance to really stake a claim, especially if Mike DeVito is not ready to go. Although he claims he will be ready, a hamstring is tricky business, and it really can come back and bite you when you think you are fully healed.
Kris Jekins, Shaun Ellis and Marques Douglas are expected to have a better year, more four-man fronts to negate the ware and tear that Jenkins suffered last season, being constantly asked to take on double-blockers.
Howard Green has been impressive in the preseason although he has played mostly against the third and fourth-stringers. Very comfortable with Jenkins/Pouha and Green in the middle.
I'm also interested to see more of Zach Potter, his size and physical presence make him a very interesting case.
Bryan Thomas/Bart Scott/David Harris/Vernon Gholston/Calvin Pace/Jamaal Westerman/Kenwin Cummings/Marques Murrell/Jason Trusnik
A very exciting group of linebackers here in my opinion. Gholston seems to be building a little confidence, after he got his first sack negated against the Giants, he came back last night with a sack and a couple of tackles, as well as some pressure on the quarterback.
Gholston will have to step up in the first four weeks as we are having to deal with the suspension of Calvin Pace which is a big blow to this team. Bryan Thomas will have to show up and prove he was worth his contract.
Bart Scott and David Harris are set to be one of the best inside linebacker partnerships in the NFL this season, they are forming chemistry, but if the preseason is anything to go by, we can expect some good things from both of them. I think Harris has a career year in terms of both tackles and sacks.
The rest of the group is filled out by some talent, of course you have the undrafted feel good story of Jamaal Westerman, who has already been guaranteed his spot. I think the linebackers pretty much pick themselves. Only guy who could spoil the party is Larry Izzo who is penned as a special teams specialist.
Darrelle Revis/Lito Sheppard/Dwight Lowery/Donald Strickland/Ahmad Carroll
Now with the team taking one extra running back, there had to be a cut down somewhere, and I think it might come in the form of the cornerback situation.
We are all set with the two starters in Revis and Sheppard, and Dwight Lowery and Donald Strickland will be the next in line, then there comes a little bit of a problem.
Marquis Coles and Drew Coleman both could make claims for Carroll's spot, however Carroll is a excellent special teamer and his coverage has definitely improved over the the last year.
That was the deciding factor when deciding who to take in the final spot, if we do run with only five backs and six corners, expect Coleman to be in here; however, I'm taking Woodhead right now.
Kerry Rhodes/Jim Leonhard/Eric Smith/James Ihedigbo
I think behind the QB's this might be the easiest position to call. Four spots and only really four players worthy of them.
The unit will be headed by the impressive Kerry Rhodes, I'm confident that in this system playing with Leonhard, Rhodes will have his best season as a Jet. He looks as good as he ever has, a team leader, looking forward to seeing him on the field this year (however, he should stay away from singing karaoke on late-night TV).
Jim Leonhard was a excellent pick up from Rhodes, he does all the dirty work which allows Rhodes to step up and make plays. Rhodes is a ball hawk and he was restrained way too much in Mangini's system.
Eric Smith and James Ihedigbo can knock your lights out with one movement. Both play very aggressive football, sometimes too aggressive I think, going for the big hit instead of just knocking the ball away.
Remember Ellis and Pace are suspended, so carrying one extra on there spots until they return.
Jay Feeley (Kicker), Reggie Hodges (Punter), James Dearth (Long Snapper)
Jay Feeley really has been impressive since coming over after Nugent hurt himself on opening day last year. So impressive in fact that Nugent, the second round draft pick Nugent would not be re-signed (not the best way to spend a second round pick).
Hodges has some under criticism this summer and several players have been brought in to challenge him. Although to his credit he has held of each one and remains the punter for the New York Jets, needs to find consistency.
James Dearth is, well, James Dearth, long snapper. Not much to say.
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