Updated, 11:50 p.m. ET
The waiting has begun for a number of Jets.
Now that the preseason has reach its conclusion after the Jets’ 24-14 loss to the Eagles tonight, the regular-season roster comes into focus. The Jets — and all of the NFL’s other 31 clubs — have until 6 PM ET on Saturday to trim their roster to 53 players.
At a number of positions, the selections will be easy. On offense, there likely won’t be a lot of discussion at QB, RB, FB and TE. But there could be interesting discussions internally about the OL and WR positions.
With any Rex Ryan roster, you have to start with the defensive backs and then work your way toward the line on the other side of the ball. You can bet the farm that the Jets are going to keep a boatload of DBs and there will be intriguing depth decisions there as well. The one thing to keep in mind throughout the weekend is that GM Mike Tannenbaum and company will be scanning the waiver wire and they’ll have the ability to make claims up until Sunday at noon.
“I think we have to see the tape,” said Rex Ryan after the Jets’ 24-14 loss to the Eagles. “I think we have a pretty good idea of what happened and what it looked like. We have to see who becomes available. Mike does a great job and our pro scouting department tells the guys if somebody becomes available. I am not saying we won’t claim somebody because it seems like each year we have, and we have improved our football team when we have done that. We will certainly look at it.”
So the Saturday night roster could have a change, or two, or a few by the time Ryan and company hit the practice field on Monday. Let’s take a quick look at each position group as we head into the weekend.
QB — In all likelihood, you are looking at a Mark Sanchez–Mark Brunell–Greg McElroy trifecta. Brunell didn’t play in the preseason due to a calf injury, but the Green & White are confident he’ll be ready to assume his place behind Sanchez.
“Brunell threw the ball today in warmups, so I think that was good,” Ryan said. “He felt good. I feel pretty comfortable that Brunell will be back in that role any day.”
Give Drew Willy a lot of credit. He finally saw game action in the preseason finale against the Eagles and came in with ice in his veins, throwing a back-shoulder scoring toss to Scotty McKnight on his first play from scrimmage after McElroy left with a thumb injury.
RB — The Jets expect FB John Conner (left ankle) ready to go for their Sept. 11 opener and they love their foursome of tailbacks in Shonn Greene, LaDainian Tomlinson, Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell. Would the Jets be looking for some insurance behind Conner?
TE — The Jets have one of the best receiving tight ends in football in Dustin Keller, a solid blocker/special teamer in Matt Mulligan and an emerging youngster in Jeff Cumberland. Rookie Josh Baker, a 6’3”, 244-pounder from Northwest Missouri, had three catches entering tonight’s game.
OL — Obviously the starters are set and the Jets are hopefully OL Rob Turner has a return in him at some point. Second-year man Vladimir Ducasse struggled at times playing a variety of positions in the preseason, but he’ll be counted on as a key backup. Has Robbie Felix done enough to earn himself a roster spot as an opening-night reserve at C? The Jets also may elect to scan the waiver wire this weekend.
“I thought he had his moments. He struggled the first game and then he picked it up after that,” Ryan said of Ducasse. “In this one maybe he took a step back — I am not sure. He did have a few penalties so, obviously we have to get better there.”
WR — You have your Big Four with Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason and Jeremy Kerley. Then that fifth spot has been battle with Logan Payne, who suffered a dislocated wrist against the Giants, and Patrick Turner. Is there any possibility that the Jets keep more than five?
DL — Youth and athleticism. The Jets are stoked about this group and have every right to be. Sione Pouha, Mike DeVito and rookie Muhammad Wilkerson will start, but the coaches love what they’ve seen from Ropati Pitoitua. Marcus Dixon has also been solid and rookie Kenrick Ellis, a developmental project out of Hampton, has flashed at well. Martin Tevaseu has got plenty of action in the summer, starting three contests and holding sturdy at the nose. He should be a capable backup to Pouha.
LB — Let’s borrow a line from the Jets press release prior to Preseason Game 4. “Second-year LB Josh Mauga, and rookie LB Nick Bellore, both undrafted, have provided quality depth at inside linebacker. The two have combined for 21 tackles, two sacks and one interception during the preseason.” After Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas on the outside, Jamal Westerman will have a golden opportunity to rush the passer in 2011 with Jason Taylor departed. Also Garrett McIntyre thrived as a rusher in camp.
Aaron Maybin, a former first-round pick of the Bills, came in late to camp and attempted to make a late push to impress the coaching staff. Did he do enough with his 1.5 sacks vs. Eagles, giving him 2.5 for the summer? Brashton Satele almost brought an interception back to the house in Week 2 against the Bengals.
DB — Get your counter ready because the Jets are going to keep a bunch. Of course Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson will head up the corners while Jim Leonhard, Eric Smith and Brodney Pool return at safety. But CB Donald Strickland, a key performer in sub packages in 2009, is back in New York and S Dwight Lowery tied for the club lead with three picks last season including two pick-sixes.
Corner Marquice Cole is a speedy vet and has been a valuable contributor on Mike Westhoff’s special teams units. Former Bills CB Ellis Lankster played well throughout camp and didn’t hurt himself tonight with his 67-yard return of a third quarter pick for a TD. There is also S Emanuel Cook, a player defensive coordinator Mike Pettine told newyorkjets.com basically has taken the spot of James Ihedigbo.
Speaking of burners, Isaiah Trufant is back after a summer try with the Eagles. The 5’8”, 170-pound CB saw some teams action tonight as Westhoff used him outside at gunner. He did commit an offside infraction that kept a Philly drive alive — a possession that resulted in a fourth-down incomplete pass from Vince Young, who pulled up with a right hamstring injury in mid-throw.
Specialists — K Nick Folk survived a tough push from Nick Novak while T.J. Conley outdueled Australian Chris Bryan. Tanner Purdum is the long-snapper while Kerley is listed atop the depth chart for both kickoff and punt returns. The Jets also have a special weapon in their bag with Cromartie always waiting to get the call.
Stay tuned to newyorkjets.com for all your official transactions from the Green & White.
Tags: Aaron Maybin, Drew Willy, final cuts, Garrett McIntyre, Greg McElroy, Isaiah Trufant, John Conner, Mark Brunell, Rex Ryan
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