Ah, the annual pre-season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles aka the battle of backups provides our last look at many New York Jets scrapping to make the roster as reserves. Here are a few players to keep an eye on tonight before the countdown can begin to week one (how about 7 days to Saints/Packers?)
Greg McElroy – The rookie quarterback has impressed all pre-season and will get the start under center tonight. Mark Brunell will return to the backup role when the regular season starts but you have to wonder if Mark Sanchez were out for an extended period of time, if the Jets would consider handing the reigns off to McElroy instead of the 65 year old Brunell.
Muhammad Wilkerson – It has been a good, not great pre-season for the Jets first round pick. He was ejected last game for getting into a scuffle with Brandon Jacobs and still hasn’t generated much pressure on the quarterback, despite being solid against the run. He should log a ton of playing time tonight, so hopefully he can take advantage of the Eagles backups.
Nick Bellore/Garret McIntyre – A pair of undrafted rookie linebackers who have a very good shot to make the roster after strong training camps and pre-seasons. The Jets could be risking it by going so young with their backups but if they are the best players on the roster after the starters, they deserve a spot on the final 53.
Aaron Maybin – He needs to make a play or two to intrigue the coaching staff enough to keep him around for a longer look. The speed is there but Maybin is easily pushed around because of his lack of size.
Joe McKnight – It has been a strong all around pre-season for the Jets second year running back, who could use one more solid performance to demonstrate that he should be involved with the first offense when the regular season starts. McKnight could bring a much needed speed dimension to the Jets running back group.
Jeff Cumberland – The second year tight end missed last week with an injury but should be back. I’d be shocked if the Jets didn’t keep him on the final 53 because of his size and potential but he needs a good performance to lock himself in.