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Jets vs. Jaguars: Players to Watch


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Romar Morris

By Glenn Naughton

 

The Jets kick off their exhibition season tonight at MetLife Stadium against the Jacksonville Jaguars with kickoff set for 7:30.

The outcome won’t have any true meaning in regards to the 2016 season, but for those players trying to fight their way up the depth-chart or on to the roster, each pre-season game will mean plenty.

JetNation.com takes a look at six players you should be keeping an eye on once the action is under way:

QB Bryce Petty- Following a slow start to this year’s camp, Petty has come on strong as of late.  At the conclusion of last season, Head Coach Todd Bowles said the former Baylor product would be given a chance to beat out incumbent back-up Geno Smith for the number two job and he echoed that on day two of camp this season.

While GM Mike Maccagnan has said publicly that the team is willing to carry four quarterbacks, doing so clearly isn’t optimal.  A strong pre-season from Petty would be a key development for several reasons.

First, it would give the team the opportunity to cut ties with Smith as he has just one season remaining on his rookie contract and is clearly not viewed as the quarterback of the future by the franchise.  It would also mean that the Jets, for the first time in forever, will have a young rifle-armed quarterback trending in the right direction from one season to the next.  Expect a healthy dose of Petty and Smith throughout the pre-season starting tonight.

Of course you could make the argument that Smith is the player to watch in the scenario, but Petty is more of an unknown at this point than Smith who has a couple dozen NFL starts under his belt.

TE Jace Amaro- As Amaro said in a recent interview on ESPN radio, the current coaching staff saw him on a very limited basis last

Amaro has had a strong start to training camp this season.

Amaro has had a strong start to training camp this season.

season as he was place on IR in the early going due to a torn labrum.  Since last season, he’s dropped over 20 pounds and has had a strong camp up to this point.

He has looked fluid in his routes, hasn’t had the issues with drops that we saw as a rookie and has been putting in extra time at the juggs machine after practice.

Whether or not the Jets still view the slimmed down Amaro as a tight end, an H-back, or perhaps even another option out of the slot remains to be seen, but no matter how you slice it, this is somewhat of a “do or die” season for Amaro.  If his reps are limited, he’ll have to make a play or two early on to make a case for himself.

WR Jalin Marshall- At this point, it might be fair to say that Marshall, an undrafted wide receiver out of Ohio State, has garnered more ink from the Jets press corps than any other rookie in camp.

As he continues to make play after play as a receiver and return man, It’s become virtually impossible to discuss some of the promising young rookies on the roster without hearing Marshall’s name.

Having played on what is arguably college football’s biggest stage, Marshall is less likely than most rookies freeze under the bright lights.  However, this will be our first look at him against actual competition, facing off against somebody else’s players and game plans.

RB Romar Morris- Full disclosure…I’m a big Morris fan, personally.  He’s a long-shot to make this roster, but he has the speed (4.33) and acceleration on offense that the Jets have seemingly been missing since the days of Leon Washington.  A smaller back out of North Carolina at 5’ 10’’ 190 lbs, Morris has a second gear that the other backs on the roster lack.

With Matt Forte and Khiry Robinson at less than 100% and it being week 1 of the pre-season, Morris could see significant time tonight.  He’s had more drops than I expected to see in the early going, but if and when he makes a catch in space, he can be a factor.  He has also had his share of runs in camp that have seen him hit the crease quickly enough to make something out of nothing.

Morris’ speed should also get him some looks as a gunner and return man on special teams.

CB Dee Milliner- Even more so than Amaro, this is a make or break season for Milliner as he enters the final season on a rookie deal that the Jets chose not to exercise a fifth-year option on.

He’s battled injuries for the majority of his career but reportedly spent the off-season doing yoga in an attempt to increase his flexibility and decrease his injuries.  Thus far, he’s been one of the top defensive backs in Jets camp.  Should he find a way to stay healthy and play to his full potential, he would give the Jets one of the top cornerback duo’s in the NFL in teaming with Darrelle Revis while allowing Buster Skrine to stay in the inside playing the slot.

More specifically with Milliner, look to see him attempt to force some fumbles.  He’s managed to sneak up and rip the ball loose on at least three plays during camp.

OLB Jordan Jenkins- A third-round pick out of Georgia, Jenkins was the only rookie listed with the starters on the team’s “unofficial depth-chart” but that comes as no surprise since he’s been plugged in to that spot since OTA’s.

In Jenkins, the Jets are hoping they have a younger version of Calvin Pace who can play strong against the run while providing a bit more burst off the edge when called upon to blitz.

With this being his first NFL action as he tries to acclimate to the pro game, don’t be surprised if Jenkins sees more reps than the veteran starters who are unlikely to go more than a couple of series.

OG’s Dakota Dozier and Jarvis Harrison- Brian Winters is slated to start at the right guard spot, but he’s far from irreplaceable at this point.

Dakota Dozier saw plenty of action early in camp.  Tonight we find out if the increased workload helped.

Dakota Dozier saw plenty of action early in camp. Tonight we find out if the increased workload helped.

In Dozier and Harrison, the Jets have a holdover from the John Idzik/Rex Ryan regime entering his third season after being drafted as a project lineman out of Furman where he played offensive tackle.  After working at guard as a rookie and at center last year, Dozier is back on the inside where he’ll try to stick on the 53-man roster yet again at least in a backup role, while hoping to push Winters for the starting job.

Meanwhile, Harrison could be on thin ice.  After being chosen in the 4th round by Mike Maccagnan and company last season, Harrison found himself jettisoned to the practice squad late in the season while Dozier remained on the 53-man roster.  Not a good sign for the Texas A&M product.

Said to be supremely talented, Harrison has been dogged by accusations of inconsistent effort which is what reportedly stopped him from being chosen sooner.

His late-season demotion could be a telling sign as the next step would be off of the roster if he doesn’t show something this pre-season.

Brent Qvale will look to seize the opportunity for more playing time in 2016.

Brent Qvale will look to seize the opportunity for more playing time in 2016.

OT’s Brenq Qvale and Ben Ijalana- See above on Winters in regards to Breno Giacomini’s current status.  Due to count for over $5 million against the cap this season for the cash-strapped Jets, the dinged up Giacomini has been sidelined thus far with Brent Qvale and Ben Ijalana splitting reps at right tackle.

Qvale, a former undrafted free agent out of Nebraska, is another Idzik/Ryan holdover who has earned high praise from both regimes.  A versatile lineman who played both guard and tackle in college, Qvale’s strength is in the run game.  Just how much his pass blocking has come along will be revealed in the coming weeks, starting tonight.

Then of course, there’s Ijalana who you could say has had either the best or worst job in the NFL over the past few seasons, depending on your perspective.

As D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s back-up, Ijalana was never called on for a spot-start, or even to fill in for an occasional snap from time to time.  This season will represent Ijalana’s first real opportunity to see significant playing time should he manage to unseat Giacomini.

CB Juston Burris- Another rookie on defense, Burris has been hot and cold during training camp.  He’s shown off excellent length and timing in batting away countless passes in coverage, but has also been beaten deep several times.

A physical cornerback out of NC State, the book on Burris is that he’s a physical player who lacks elite speed and will get called for his share of interference calls.

With Milliner’s deal due to expire, plus his durability concerns and Darrelle Revis’ age and price tag, the Jets would like nothing more than to get themselves a late-round steal who could develop in to a starting cornerback over the next couple of seasons.  Burris has a chance to be just that.

The 2016 season is upon us Jets fans…enjoy!

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Lol I just can't see the good in cutting Smith. You DONT cut the only guy that has reps in a real game. You just don't! Idc if Petty shows devoplement or not..that's good that he has, maybe he can compete for the #2/#1 spot next year along with Hack but he isn't ready. That's clear. 2 good practices don't help that and neither does 4 preseason games. You want to be contenders? You need a solid back up...especially to a 34 year old QB. I don't agree with that at all but I am however, looking forward to seeing Petty take strides. Hack may not even play tonight so my players to watch are Petty, J.Marshall,Jenkins, Lee, Geno and Burris.(Burris is my sleeper..watch him develop into a solid corner)

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55 minutes ago, Patriot Killa said:

Lol I just can't see the good in cutting Smith. You DONT cut the only guy that has reps in a real game. You just don't! Idc if Petty shows devoplement or not..that's good that he has, maybe he can compete for the #2/#1 spot next year along with Hack but he isn't ready. That's clear. 2 good practices don't help that and neither does 4 preseason games. You want to be contenders? You need a solid back up...especially to a 34 year old QB. I don't agree with that at all but I am however, looking forward to seeing Petty take strides. Hack may not even play tonight so my players to watch are Petty, J.Marshall,Jenkins, Lee, Geno and Burris.(Burris is my sleeper..watch him develop into a solid corner)

I don't necessarily disagree w/ you.  If I had to decide today if Geno stays or goes, I say he stays.

However, if Petty plays well enough to impress Gailey/Bowles/Mac, maybe they cut ties with the guy who will be gone next season anyway and save a roster spot for somebody who will get on the field and possibly be around for a bit.

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7 minutes ago, AFJF said:

I don't necessarily disagree w/ you.  If I had to decide today if Geno stays or goes, I say he stays.

However, if Petty plays well enough to impress Gailey/Bowles/Mac, maybe they cut ties with the guy who will be gone next season anyway and save a roster spot for somebody who will get on the field and possibly be around for a bit.

I understand where you are coming from completely man. But then what if Fitz goes down mid season? Petty very well could impress in these 4 games but will he be able to handle these in game situations game in and game out. Smith always knows what to expect from NFL defenses in the regular season. Petty vs 3rd stringers probably has different results from Petty vs 1st stringers with records on the line

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4 minutes ago, Patriot Killa said:

I understand where you are coming from completely man. But then what if Fitz goes down mid season? Petty very well could impress in these 4 games but will he be able to handle these in game situations game in and game out. Smith always knows what to expect from NFL defenses in the regular season. Petty vs 3rd stringers probably has different results from Petty vs 1st stringers with records on the line

Yup...that's why I'm interested to see who gets the most reaps throughout the pre-season and when they get them.

Just food for thought, as they say.

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Just now, AFJF said:

Yup...that's why I'm interested to see who gets the most reaps throughout the pre-season and when they get them.

Just food for thought, as they say.

What I'm truely disappointed to hear is, Hack probably won't be playing tonight. His lack of reps scream no playing time.

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3 minutes ago, Patriot Killa said:

I understand where you are coming from completely man. But then what if Fitz goes down mid season? Petty very well could impress in these 4 games but will he be able to handle these in game ostuations game in and game out. Smith always knows what to expect from NFL defenses in the regular season. Petty vs 3rd stringers probably has different results from Petty vs 1st stringers with records on the line

I think The FO is leaning towards keeping 4 QB's right now ... But Petty can swing the pendulum either direction in these 4 preseason games.  

He plays great ... Geno is gone.

He plays like $h*t ... They try to get him through to the practice squad 

anything near the middle  we keep 4

jmo

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4 minutes ago, Patriot Killa said:

What I'm truely disappointed to hear is, Hack probably won't be playing tonight. His lack of reps scream no playing time.

Yeah...if he even plays, if be surprised if he throws more than 2 passes if any at all.

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2 minutes ago, ljr said:

I think The FO is leaning towards keeping 4 QB's right now ... But Petty can swing the pendulum either direction in these 4 preseason games.  

He plays great ... Geno is gone.

He plays like $h*t ... They try to get him through to the practice squad 

anything near the middle  we keep 4

jmo

My thoughts exactly.

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8 minutes ago, ljr said:

I think The FO is leaning towards keeping 4 QB's right now ... But Petty can swing the pendulum either direction in these 4 preseason games.  

He plays great ... Geno is gone.

He plays like $h*t ... They try to get him through to the practice squad 

anything near the middle  we keep 4

jmo

Hold up though, Geno also has some control over the pendulum. If he plays lights out then what choice do they have but to keep the experienced QB that is showing progression as their solid #2. It's a very interesting situation. I do believe they keep four either way though.

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16 minutes ago, ljr said:

I think The FO is leaning towards keeping 4 QB's right now ... But Petty can swing the pendulum either direction in these 4 preseason games.  

He plays great ... Geno is gone.

He plays like $h*t ... They try to get him through to the practice squad 

anything near the middle  we keep 4

jmo

I agree with you 100%. But to me, its not a question of whether or not Geno stays. I think his spot is locked down (along with Fitz and Hack). Even if he struggles from here on out, and Petty plays well, I just don't see the Jets cutting him loose and going with Petty as the #2. 

So yes, the FO is leaning towards keeping 4 QBs. But the only way Petty can swing the pendulum is to force the Jets to keep 4 QBs by playing well. He's essentially trying to play for the 53rd spot on the roster- i.e. prove that he is more important to keep than an extra depth guy at ANY of the other positions. If he doesn't play well, the Jets will risk trying to get him on PS. 

But yes, anything in the middle- we keep 4 and I think a struggling O-lineman gets cut instead- maybe put on PS. 

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Anyone who thinks Geno can take the starting spot from Fitz no matter how good, or bad they play this preseason just isn't paying attention. 

Also anyone who thinks cutting G Smith who makes like 1 million fully guaranteed so Petty can be the back up no matter how good bad they play is foolish, and if T Bowles is really thinking this he is foolish.

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7 minutes ago, Lupz27 said:

 

Also anyone who thinks cutting G Smith who makes like 1 million fully guaranteed so Petty can be the back up no matter how good bad they play is foolish, and if T Bowles is really thinking this he is foolish.

I hear ya ... And only could see it under an extremely impressive preseason performance from Petty ... Which isn't likely to happen anyway.   

At that point it would be Bowles gambling long term potential gain (Petty more responsibility/status/experience as a #2 plus young 53rd player on the roster still instead of being cut, with future potential) vs.    short term superior 2016 backup QB.

again, very unlikely result.

 

Carrying 4 most likely result ... Petty $h*tting the bed in his opportunities and Mac & Bowles attempting to stash him on the Practice Squad next most likely

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3 hours ago, Patriot Killa said:

Hold up though, Geno also has some control over the pendulum. If he plays lights out then what choice do they have but to keep the experienced QB that is showing progression as their solid #2. It's a very interesting situation. I do believe they keep four either way though.

I think they keep 4 as well.  The Jets are still approaching this season as if they're serious playoff contenders, and they should.  If you think you're a potential 10 win team again then you don't put all your eggs in a Fitzpatrick-Petty-Hackenberg QB depth chart.  You pretty much HAVE TO keep Geno since he's the only guy outside of Fitz with substantial NFL experience and he has shown some success.

If this team finds a way to ride a stud defense and an above-average running game to a playoff berth then I'd hate to see it crumble if Fitz sprained a shoulder and we had to hand the reigns to Petty.  Bill Parcells learned that lesson the hard way in 1999 when Vinny T ruptured his Achilles, Bruce Arians learned it in 2014 when Carson Palmer went down with an ACL.  We need an experienced backup.

Again, I think the Jets keep 4.  If they keep 3 then there's a 90% chance Petty is the guy who gets dumped IMO.

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1 hour ago, jetstream23 said:

I think they keep 4 as well.  The Jets are still approaching this season as if they're serious playoff contenders, and they should.  If you think you're a potential 10 win team again then you don't put all your eggs in a Fitzpatrick-Petty-Hackenberg QB depth chart.  You pretty much HAVE TO keep Geno since he's the only guy outside of Fitz with substantial NFL experience and he has shown some success.

If this team finds a way to ride a stud defense and an above-average running game to a playoff berth then I'd hate to see it crumble if Fitz sprained a shoulder and we had to hand the reigns to Petty.  Bill Parcells learned that lesson the hard way in 1999 when Vinny T ruptured his Achilles, Bruce Arians learned it in 2014 when Carson Palmer went down with an ACL.  We need an experienced backup.

Again, I think the Jets keep 4.  If they keep 3 then there's a 90% chance Petty is the guy who gets dumped IMO.

I think this makes alot of sense, but if we think the Jets are serious playoff contenders this year, we need to 4th QB spot for another OL or S, for example.  the 4th QB is an investment in the future.  If we are serious playoff contenders, the future is now.

That is the conundrum.

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