New York Jets Preseason Week 1: 5 Players to Watch
This time, they'll try to live up to Ryan's Super Bowl guarantee.
The Jets didn't make the splash signing that many hoped for in Nnamdi Asomugha. But there are veterans with more on the line and rookies trying to prove themselves.
Here are five players to keep an eye on.
1. Wayne Hunter, RT
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The veteran steps in as a full-time starter for the first time. He’ll take the place of the retired Damien Woody.
The Jets have built one of the strongest offensive lines in the NFL around Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Matt Slauson seamlessly transitioned into the left guard spot vacated by Alan Fancea last season.
Hunter is a good pass protector but will need to hold up well in the run game, as the Jets love running right.
2. Muhammad Wilkerson, DE
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Another spot vacated by a veteran is along the defensive line, with Shaun Ellis now a member of the hated Patriots.
It’s rookie 6'4", 315 lb. Muhammad Wilkerson out of Temple who has been anointed the starter from day one by Rex Ryan.
Wilkerson was a dominant lineman in the MAC , recording 9.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss in his senior season. The Jets will need him to adjust to being a NFL DE quickly, as Ellis, their longest tenured player, still had dynamic moments at that spot (see Jets/Patriots Divisional Playoffs).
3. Jeremy Kerley, WR
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Not a top pick like Muhammad, the fifth-round selection out of TCU has impressed as a jack of all trades in Florham Park.
Brad Smith’s gone, but the Jets would like Kerley to fill his role. He’s already atop the depth chart as kick and punt returner and has been taking snaps from the Wildcat.
Smith was a valuable gamechanger but never really developed as a receiving threat. Kerley can out-do Smith if he can become that in the slot. With Plaxico Burress out, he should see even more time tonight.
4. Kyle Wilson, CB
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There were high expectations for corner Kyle Wilson going into his rookie season. Thrown into the fire fast, the first-round pick struggled and never really got going.
Year two is a new opportunity for Wilson to become the strong cover corner the Jets are hoping he’ll be. It doesn’t hurt that Wilson gets to learn from Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, two of the game’s best.
5. Jamaal Westerman, OLB
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We all know one of the Jets’ biggest defensive deficiencies last season was the lack of a pass-rush. For Rex Ryan’s defense to reach its maximum potential, there need to be edge rushers who get to the quarterback.
Vernon Gholston was anything but that and he’s now gone. Calvin Pace has not proven to be effective enough at doing it. Westerman has been a contributor predominantly on special teams in his two seasons, but Rex Ryan is talking him up, so take notice if he can perform starting tonight.