New York Jets 2011 Preseason Schedule: August Preview
With the New York Jets' first preseason game less than a week away, it is time to look at what is up ahead for gang green before they open up their season against the Dallas Cowboys on September 11th. This year, there are plenty of questions waiting to be answered about this new Jets team; some include:
Who will be the new kick returner?
Will the "Seminole" formation stay or go?
Was Derrick Mason a good signing?
Will the defensive line be as good as it has been hyped up to be now that the Jets drafted Muhammad Wilkerson?
To start off the preseason, the Jets will be traveling to Reliant Stadium for a Monday Night Football game against Andre Johnson and the Houston Texans. Mixed reports have been coming out of the Jets training camp about whether or not the Jets are ready, especially with their new acquisitions who have had limited time to get acclimated because of the lockout. No matter what though, football is back and the rubber meets the road on Monday night. Here's a look at what to expect from the Jets games in the coming weeks.
1. At Houston Texans (August 15)
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This game will probably be the most intense preseason game fans of either teams will see. The lockout prevented these men from getting the pads back on, and the new collective bargaining agreement has gotten rid of two-a-days and a lot of practices in full pads.
The players want to just get out on the field and hit somebody as hard as they can, and now that they have another team to do it against, there is nothing holding them back. The starters in this game will probably play two to three quarters since they will need as much practice as they can get, while fitting in time for the substitutes. While the starters are in though, this game should be like any other regular season game now that it is back to football.
Someone to watch out for in this game is rookie Jeremy Kerley. The wide receiver out of TCU will be getting his first shot to show fans people around the league the kinds of skills he possesses. Kerley is most likely going to be the man to replace former Jets receiver Brad Smith, who became a free agent this year and signed with the Bills. In this game, Kerley will get looks all over the field as the Jets are going to try where he fits best, whether it is out of the wildcat or just returning kicks.
2. Cincinnati Bengals (August 21)
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Don't expect to see the starters for too long during this game; the Bengals made it obvious at the end of the lockout that they are going into rebuild-mode two seasons after making the playoffs for the first time in almost a decade.
The starters may play the first quarter and some of the second because the Bengals are a poor team and the team will already have had a good amount of practice since training camp will be entering its fifth week for them.
Also, the Jets need to see what kind of depth they have on the field. One of the problems the Jets faced last preseason was no depth to their defense, which is why they lost games to the Giants and Redskins. One of the Jets players to look out for during this game would be their new linebacker Nick Bellore, who the Jets quickly contacted once they were allowed to sign undrafted free agents on July 25th.
The rookie out of Central Michigan has been getting most of his work in with the second-team defense and is known for his ability to find the ball carrier and get them to the ground. In his time at Central Michigan, Bellore recorded 472 tackles and showed his reliability by starting in 51 straight games. Bellore will have plenty of opportunities to ensure his spot on the team in this game, so look out for this up and comer.
3. At New York Giants (August 27)
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Last year, this game set the tone for what the Jets wanted their defensive line to do as Calvin Pace got through the offensive line and hit Eli Manning so hard that he began to bleed from his forehead and leave the game. The Jets carried that momentum all the way through the playoffs, especially in New England when they sacked Tom Brady five times.
This game will be no same, as the Jets starters will look to set the tone for the 2011 regular season as this will probably be the last game the starters play in, until September 11th when the Jets host the Cowboys. What should be payed the most attention to in this game is the battle for defensive end.
This year, the Jets have a battle between Ropati Pitoitua and their first-round draft pick Muhammad Wilkerson going on to see who will get the starting spot. The trick to seeing who gets the starting spot is seeing who plays less—the coaches will keep the player they choose on the sideline more to avoid an injury that could set this player back. Both players bring great qualities to the team but only one can start, and this will be the crucial week for them.
For more on the position battle between Pitoitua and Wilkerson, or other position battles during this year's preseason, go here.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (September 1)
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Most people think that this game would be a waste of time to watch; all the starters will sit out after one possession and the rest of the game will be boring, but there is definitely something to look out for during the last 2011 exhibition game for the Jets.
Fans and spectators should be looking out for young players who stand out throughout the course of the game. In 2009, the Jets had the exact same game against the Eagles, Week 4 at the Meadowlands, and it was the return of Michael Vick. While most of the spotlight was focused on Vick, one player became a fan-favorite and is now a household name in the northeast: Danny Woodhead.
In that game against the Eagles, Woodhead had two touchdowns and all of the Jets fans in Giants Stadium were cheering "Danny Woodhead!" No one expected the 5'9" running back from Chadron State to be such a successful player in the NFL, but because of his success in New England, Woodhead almost made it onto the cover of Madden 12 and will be in football-related conversations and pieces for a while.
It is these kinds of players who give people a reason to watch preseason games. As the final cuts get closer, players will definitely want to produce during this final preseason game.