Friday, July 26, 2013

Five tasks Jets must complete at camp


Plenty of jobs are up for grabs as the New York Jets begin training camp.

Here are five tasks the Jets must complete by the end of summer activities:

Pick a quarterback. Incumbent Mark Sanchez is the early favorite to start behind center Week 1, but he's in what the Jets insist is a fair fight over the job with rookie second-rounder Geno Smith. Both quarterbacks are new to offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg's system, though Sanchez has four years of professional experience to lean on. Smith has been touted as a quick learner, and Mornhinweg likely wouldn't have an issue with scaling things back assuming Smith's potential alone is enough to give him the keys right away.

Solidify the defensive backfield. The Jets have entered every season under coach Rex Ryan with a new arrangement at safety, and this year is no exception. Dawan Landry was brought in following the departure of his brother, LaRon, and the vacancy left by Yeremiah Bell opened the door for returners Josh Bush and Antonio Allen to get promoted. The Jets drafted cornerback Dee Milliner to ease the impact of Darrelle Revis's move to Tampa Bay, but Milliner has yet to sign a contract. Kyle Wilson is the projected No. 3, however, he could start the season opposite Antonio Cromartie if Milliner isn't up to speed by then.

Settle Dennis Thurman into his new job. Ryan had near-complete control of the defense when he took over as head coach in 2009, but he delegated more and more responsibilities to defensive coordinator Mike Pettine over the last three years. With Pettine gone to Buffalo, Thurman, formerly the defensive backs coach, was promoted, though Ryan is going back to his old approach as the play-caller. Thurman has been working with Ryan since their days together in Baltimore, so he knows what to expect. His hand will be in every defensive position, but he won't be a defensive coordinator in the traditional sense.

Find out if Santonio Holmes will play at all. Last month, the veteran wideout was looking to return to the practice field at the beginning of training camp. But as the team opened camp, Holmes couldn't definitively answer a question on whether he'd play at all in 2013. Holmes is recovering from a severe foot injury that ended his 2012 season early. Without Holmes, newly-signed Braylon Edwards is the sure starter opposite second-year wideout Stephen Hill, and Jeremy Kerley will be the primary option inside. It's doable but dangerous, as there's no depth behind them.

Get the running backs in order. The Jets have four tailbacks who could be in line for a good share of reps, with bruiser Chris Ivory, who is essentially Shonn Greene's replacement, favored to handle the bulk of the work. However, Mornhinweg's system regularly involves tailbacks in the passing game. New Jet Mike Goodson has proven capable in the past as a catch-and-runner, and returner Joe McKnight has trended toward a third-down back role. Returner Bilal Powell is a notable prospect, too, as he's been lauded for his growth in pass-protection.

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