Camp Countdown '09: Special Teams
The one constant on special teams is the presence of long snapper James Dearth. Dearth is one of the most reliable in the game and should find himself on the final roster, despite the fact that he does nothing else for the team but snap. Dearth is in the final season of his contract and there have been rumors that he may want to retire, but that should be a concern in 2010, not 2009. The kicker position seems set with Jay Feely returning after displacing the disappointing Mike Nugent in 2008. Feely does not have a very big leg and anything beyond 45 yards is always a concern and he does have a knack for missing kicks at the most inopportune times, but he is usually consistent inside the 40. He does not boom the ball on kickoffs, but usually gets enough air under them to allow the coverage team, which is usually very good, to get the return man down before it is a problem. The Jets are going to plan on kicking a lot of field goals this year and they need Feely to be good because they can not afford to leave points on the field. The punter competition is an interesting one. The position killed the Jets last year starting with Ben Grahamís shanks early in the season. Reggie Hodges took over for the job and was one of the worst punters in the NFL. He only lasted the season because he seemed to do a good job as a holder and there were few options left on the market. Hodges was actually cut in the offseason, but brought back when the other options looked even worse. Hodges has no leg, gets no hang time on the ball, and canít use the sidelines to pin a team inside the 20. Hodgesí competition will come from UDFA TJ Conley, who the Jets hope will claim the job. Conley led the NCAA in punting last year and has a strong leg, but is known as a line drive kicker that may have a hard time making it in the NFL. He will certainly get his shot as the last thing the Jets want is another Hodges type season in 2009.