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New York Jets Season Preview: 9 Critical Players Flying Under the Radar in 2011

Ed OrzaCorrespondent IIAugust 2, 2011

New York Jets Season Preview: 9 Critical Players Flying Under the Radar in 2011

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    The Jets have been all over the news during Free Agency.  

    They have been associated with a number of big names and in general are an organization with a lot of star power.  

    That being said, all that talent is worthless if it doesn't amount to a championship.  

    If the Jets are going to finally reach their collective goal of bringing the Lombardi Trophy to New York, the guys who are in the shadows are going to have to step up in a major way.  

Jim Leonhard

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    Jim Leonhard is the proverbial quarterback of the defense.  

    He's a guy who came over from Baltimore who has played in Rex Ryan's system for a long time.  

    He may be undersized and vulnerable in man coverage but his immeasurables far exceed his physical ability.  

    Leonhard is what Ed Reed is to the Ravens...without all the god given talent.  

    His role on the team goes much further than just his play on the field.  

Wayne Hunter

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    Hunter will most likely replace Damien Woody at right tackle for the Jets this year. 

    Those are big shoes to fill, Pro Bowl veteran size shoes.  

    It's no secret how important a consistent running game is to the Jets success, and Hunter will have to play his part in a big way.  

    Rex Ryan believes he's the best backup tackle in the league. 

    We'll see if Rex was for real or not.  

Sione Pouha

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    Jets fans know how important Sione Pouha has been because of all of Kris Jenkin's injuries. 

    The importance of a defensive tackle in the 3-4 can not be emphasized enough.  

    Pouha did an admirable job of shouldering that important responsibility last season.  He'll have to have a repeat performance in 2011 for Gang Green to make another run at a title.  

Kyle Wilson

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    Kyle Wilson was the Jets first round pick in the 2010 draft.  

    Antonio Cromartie and Darelle Revis have allowed him to develop at a comfortable pace. 

    This is the year that he's going to have to step up and contribute.  

    With the Patriots trading for Chad Ochocinco and the ever growing of importance of corners in general, the Jets will need three players who can contribute at a high level.  

    Wilson has the talent to do so, we'll see if he rises to the occasion.  

Matt Slauson

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    Matt Slauson is a solid run blocker.  That being said, he's going to have to improve on his last season if New York hopes to have one of the best offensive lines in football again.  

    Now that Bill Bellichik has Albert Haynesworth at his disposal, Slauson is even more important inside.  

    Like Turner, Matt Slauson needs to continue to elevate his level of play for the offensive line to be effective in 2011.

Jericho Cotchery

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    Assuming Cotchery isn't traded he'll need to carry a lot of weight, especially early in the season while Plaxico gets adjusted.  

    Jericho Cotchery is no stranger to being forgotten about.  Much of his career he has been underrated.

    He's never been able to be a true number one, but he's always made big catches and is a model of consistency.  

Dustin Keller

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    Keller has the ability the be an elite tight end in the league.  

    The Jets are counting on him using all of that ability in 2011.  

    Similar to Cotchery, Keller will need to step up while Burress gets back in stride.  

    Since Mark Sanchez arrived in New York Dustin Keller has been one of his favorite targets.  

    Sanchez is going to need all the familiarity he can get with Plaxico coming in and Jericho Cotchery possibly being traded.  

Eric Smith

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    Smith was re-signed during free agency and Rex Ryan has already said he will be starting.  

    With safety being one of the weak spots on New York's defense Smith has to demonstrate he is worthy of a true starting position.  

Mike DeVito

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    Not many NFL players come from the University of Maine.  

    Since DeVito found his way into the league and onto the Jets roster he has been a contributor who has never gotten the credit he's deserved.  

    With Shaun Ellis still unsigned DeVito will have to be a beast on the defensive line for New York.  

    There's no telling how Muhammad Wilkerson will play and if Kenrick Ellis will even get on the field, Mike DeVito must play well for the Jets to take flight.  

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