First a few updates:
1. We got a nice long weekend of sports coming up. The Yankees and Red Sox start up tomorrow, hopefully the Yankees will deliver the knockout punch in the divisional race over the next three games. Fortunately, the Jets will prevent me from getting too depressed on Sunday night since they are on Monday Night Football against the Ravens, with Mark Sanchez making his first start under center.
2. I got my fantasy draft next weekend and I am still very undecided on my #5 pick. Although I am leaning towards Drew Brees or Larry Fitzgerald…yes Fitzgerald, I’m not shy about taking a WR at #5. Yes, I am also excited about taking Thomas Jones and Dustin Keller in the late rounds because nobody in my league touches any Jets because they are too high and mighty as Giants fans.
3. Minor Jets roster moves – They released guard Dennis Conley and signed safety Nate Ness.
Sanchez Nears Knockout Punch in QB Battle
Today was the final day of practice up in Cortland, New York and similar to how he exited mini-camp, Mark Sanchez ended with a bang. In the situational drills, which were set up to imitate the final play of the game with the Jets needing a touchdown from the 5 and 15 yard line, Sanchez twice found Brad Smith for a touchdown. Kellen Clemens on the other hand went 0-2 with an interception. Prior to the situational drills, Sanchez also hit Jerricho Cotchery with a 35 yard touchdown strike and Clemens was intercepted by backup DB Rashad Barksdale. Can anybody else read the writing on the walls? Unless Clemens lights it up on Monday night and Sanchez completely tanks or gets hurt, #6 will be under center for the first snap of every game in the 2009 season.
Up to this point both quarterbacks have been slightly inconsistent, trading good days with rough days and being overall pretty average. However, Sanchez is learning a new offense and adjusting to play at the NFL level. This is Kellen Clemens fourth year in the system and he hasn’t improved as camp went on. In fact, if you remember early on Clemens had a clear lead on Sanchez but slowly squandered it away. The rookie will take his lumps this year but should be able to stay healthy behind a premier (please stay healthy) offensive line and supported by a strong running game. In the long run, Sanchez will benefit from being thrown into the fire with a team that harbors playoff expectations. I believe he could play as well as Joe Flacco did last year and that he won’t impede the Jets from being a playoff contender.
What about the other training camp battles? We have had a strong camp by Chansi Stuckey, slowly being forgotten because of the recent resurgence of David Clowney who remains the Jets only legit home run threat at the position. Expect to see alot of Stuckey in the slot, with Clowney and Brad Smith (also quietly having a good camp) splitting out alongside Jerricho Cotchery. I expect the Jets to keep 6 receivers, with Wallace Wright and promising UDFA Britt Davis rounding out the depth chart.
Over at tight end, nobody has really stepped up behind Dustin Keller and I am still waiting for the Jets to bring in another veteran after roster cuts are made. Regardless, expect Jack Simmons and Wayne Hunter to see the majority of the #2 TE reps for now. At outside linebacker, neither Vernon Gholston or Marques Murrell has done anything that impressive this summer, with UDFA Jamaal Westerman arguably outplaying both of them. On the positive side, Bryan Thomas has had a very good camp and Calvin Pace looked like a beast in the Jets first pre-season game.
In terms of injuries, the Jets haven’t sustained anything major but rather a handful of minor injuries. As of right now, it doesn’t look like they will be missing anyone week one because of an injury. I would expect Darrelle Revis, Kris Jenkins, Tony Richardson, and maybe Alan Faneca to play in the third pre-season game and wouldn’t be surprised if Nick Mangold suited up on Monday.
Kerry Rhodes and Nick Mangold compete in throwing contests to prove who deserves the higher Madden rating: