Camp Countdown '10: Wide Receivers
For the last five or six year the wide receiver position has always been one of concern for the Jets. There was never a clear cut number one on the team
and there was always a struggle to find that third receiver to fill out the group. 2010 promises to be something different as the Jets are loaded with talent and there is no question as to who the top 3 WR's on the team will be. The Jets will be fielding a team with three players who have all gone over 1,000 yards at one point in their career, something not many teams can boast. They have players that have size, are downfield threats, and great runners after the catch.
The big offseason pickup was WR Santonio Holmes from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Holmes is an explosive player with tremendous ability to stretch the field. He had over 1200 receiving yards last season and could turn into a real stud on the Jets. The team got Holmes on the cheap because of off the field issues and those issues will likely follow him all through camp. Holmes' will be under a microscope by the media and he is going to be worked very hard by the staff in camp and in preseason because he is facing a four game suspension to start the season. The Jets want him to come out of the gates running when his suspension is over so it is very important he put the work in during camp. Hopefully someone takes him under his wing to keep him out of trouble because he is an important part of the offense and the team needs him to fit in.
What gives the Jets hope for Holmes was how Braylon Edwards responded last season to an in season trade to New York. Edwards always had a bad reputation in Cleveland for being uncoachable and a distraction both on and off the field, but he was more or less a model citizen as a Jet. Edwards played hard and never looked like he was taking plays off on the field. Though he did take some seemingly veiled shots at the offensive coordinator after the championship loss, that seemed to be more emotions after a loss than a sign of discord. Edwards was set to begin the season on the suspended list, but reports are now that the Jets will be with him for a full 16 games, a major boost for the club, who is set to take on a expected playoff contender in week 1 of the season in the Baltimore Ravens. Edwards is a big target with good down the field ability due to the long strides he takes. His major issue is an inability to catch the football and he'll be working on that this camp. The last thing he wants is a few drops in practice to get overblown by the media in their reports. His offseason work was supposedly stellar this year.
The last of the “big three” is Jerricho Cotchery. Cotchery has great hands and a real knack for catching the ball in traffic and making something happen after the catch. He's been a starter since 2006 and is one player who most expect to be here for a majority of his career. He'll be playing the slot position this year, which is what most of his camp work should focus on. He played that position in 2006 as the primary man in motion so it will not really be learning anything new, just re-learning some of the position. The Jets really want to get Holmes and Edwards fully integrated into the offense so its possible that he could see some lighter work in August than the other two players.
Six other players will also enter camp with a chance to make the team, one of whom should be a lock. While Brad Smith has not really made any strides towards becoming a respectable wideout he is so valuable in other areas that he is a lock to make the team. He covers on special teams, can return kicks and punts, and is the “Wildcat” package QB. He may get an extra look at WR in camp due to the Holmes suspension, but regardless of how he performs in that role he is going to make the team. In a normal season the other six players would just be scrambling hoping to get a chance to showcase their abilities for the practice squad or another team, but this is a unique camp experience for them because the Jets will be thin during the first four weeks. Any player who has a good camp has a chance to make the roster and if they get that chance anything is possible.
The five names that will be competing are David Clowney, Aundrae Allison, Marcus Henry, Larry Taylor, and Britt Davis. Clowney is the most well known of the group. He has been on the team the last three seasons and had two nice games last season. He is popular with his teammates and would likely fill the role that is left open by Holmes' four game suspension as he has a similar skillset. The downside to Clowney is that there really is no upside anymore. He has not really shown great improvements in his three years as a Jet and he probably can't show the team anything special in camp. His primary competition might be Allison, who spent the season last year on IR with a torn ACL. Allison has blazing speed and also has return skills. He never really cracked the rotation in Minnesota, but looked like he had a chance to make the Jets last year prior to his injury. He is going to have to show in camp that he is fully healed to have a chance. Larry Taylor is another speedy player, but his best chance to make the team is as a special teams punt returner, where he excelled in the CFL.
Davis and Henry's chances to make the team took a big hit when the Edwards suspension was rescinded. Either would have been used as the Edwards replacement as both have good size and both are familiar with the team- Davis was on the Jets practice squad last season and Henry has spent two full years on the practice squad. Davis was an early favorite of Rex Ryan's in the 2009 training camp, but once Davis got some attention he seemed to wilt under the pressure and had problems catching the ball. Henry is a former draft pick of the team, but only lasted on the active roster for a few weeks before being sent to the practice unit. Their familiarity with the club could help them if the Jets decide to prefer big players for the goalline packages.
Normally the Jets would only carry five players and maybe stash one on the practice squad, but due to the Holmes suspension, they may carry an extra body or two to pick up the slack. Along with Edwards, Smith and Cotchery the Jets will likely carry Clowney and Allison with each getting some type of opportunity to see regular season action. With Holmes out for four weeks it would make sense to carry two speed players and hope one can fill some of the void left. Henry's best chance is if he shows great hands in short yardage spots where he just has to go up and grab the ball. The Jets seem to have plenty of punt returners which would make Taylor a long shot and Henry was preferred to Davis last season, so it is doubtful much will change this year. Expect the Jets to also be active on the waiver wire here as well and if a veteran becomes available they may jump on him even if just for a one or two week stay on the team.
And as always you can receive updates Via Twitter @nyjetscap