After four days of practice several storylines have emerged from New York Jets training camp. As expected the quarterback "competition" has garnered most of the headlines, but there are some intriguing position battles that are starting to raise some eyebrows.
On Sunday offensive lineman Willie Colon was removed from the PUP list which will place the veteran back at the starting right guard spot. The return of Colon pushes the focus to the left guard position where Brian Winters and Oday Aboushi are competing for reps. Rex Ryan has been praising Aboushi's improved play which will make this one of the top position battles to watch as camp plays out. Keep an eye on fourth round pick Dakota Dozier as the rookie offensive lineman starts to learn the ropes of the NFL.
It is no secret that the New York Jets are trying to improve the speed and athleticism at the safety position. First round pick Calvin Pryor should be a significant upgrade at the position now it is a matter of finding his running mate. Antonio Allen has been playing alongside Pryor while Dawan Landry, Josh Bush, and Jaiquawn Jarrett have been competing for reps. Landry is the veteran mentor for the group while Jarrett and Bush bring different skill sets to the table. Jarrett is a big hitting safety that could be effective down in the box while Bush is starting to emerge with his range and coverage ability. If the Jets only keep 4 safeties on the final roster it is going to be interesting to see which player is the odd man out. (Note: Calvin Pryor left Saturday's practice with a concussion and missed Sunday's action. As of now Pryor is scheduled to return on Tuesday.)
For the first time in years the New York Jets have some depth at the wide receiver position. Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley are joined by a cast of hungry playmakers that are fighting for 4 roster spots. David Nelson appears to be a lock to make the team which leaves Stephen Hill, Clyde Gates, Jalen Saunders, Shaq Evans, Greg Salas, Saalim Hakim, Jacoby Ford, Michael Campbell, and Quincy Enunwa fighting for probably 3 spots. Gates, Saunders, and Hill have flashed early on in camp which will put a lot of pressure on the likes of Ford and Salas if they want to stick around. Rookie Shaq Evans has been fighting a case of the drops which could lead the youngster to the practice squad if he does not clean up his mistakes. There is a good chance that special teams ability will be the deciding factor for the final roster spots.
It is ridiculously apparent that Gang Green's defensive line could end up being one of the best in the National Football League. Pro Bowler Muhammad Wilkerson, Defensive Rookie of the Year Sheldon Richardson, and the very underrated Damon Harrison are supported by several quality lineman that can continuously apply pressure at the line of scrimmage. Now the challenge for Rex Ryan is to identify the group of linemen that he wants to keep on the roster as there seems to be an abundance of talent. Leger Douzable will make the team as should Kenrick Ellis. After that it is anyone's guess as T.J. Barnes and Anthony Grady have started to turn some heads in camp. Is it possible that Ellis' roster spot ends up on the line?
Early in camp Dimitri Patterson has been playing opposite Dee Milliner with Kyle Wilson playing the slot corner position. After these three, the competition has been fast and furious as Darrin Walls, rookie Dexter McDougle, and Ellis Lankster have been fighting for increased reps. There is also competition from Ras I Dowling, Brandon Dixon, Johnny Patrick, and Jeremy Reeves. How many cornerbacks will Rex Ryan end up keeping on his roster? Will Rex take experience over speed? Or does the head coach take a shot with a young, athletic corner?
Depth and Talent
You have to give general manager John Idzik some credit as he has upgraded the talent base on the New York Jets roster. There is serious competition throughout the roster and there will be some very difficult personnel decisions to be made. On the defensive side of the ball there will be some surprising moves made and quality players released from the roster due to the team's depth. When was the last time you could say that about a New York Jets team? This is an exciting time to be a fan of Gang Green and it will interesting to watch all of these position battles play out.