The New York Jets have a 3 day mini-camp kicking off tomorrow. It will be the last time the full team is gathered before training camp which starts at the end of July. The skill position offensive players will be gathering in the coming weeks for Mark Sanchez’s “Jets West” camp but that will smartly be closed to the media. I threw the question out on Twitter earlier today, “What is one storyline you’ll be focusing on for
#Jets mini-camp the next 3 days? (Non-Tebow related).” Here are a few responses I received, along with more extended commentary on them than what I could give in 140 characters –
The Jets current depth at running back is absolutely a cause for concern. For starters, Shonn Greene is going to need an improved performance from what we have seen the past two seasons. He is never going to be an elite back but if he gives the Jets 1,200 yards, keeps his YPC comfortably over 4.0 while protecting the football, it is satisfactory. However, he will need support. Ideally, Joe McKnight will seize the 3rd down role and be able to handle being his primary backup. McKnight’s potential was never fully realized in Brian Schottenheimer’s scheme (a recurring theme for many players). It will be interesting to see if Tony Sparano can find a way to use McKnight in similar ways to how he used Reggie Bush in Miami.
Outside of Greene and McKnight, the Jets need either Bilal Powell or Terrance Ganaway to step up as a short yardage, power running option off the bench. Ganaway is comfortable with the option from college, which could help get him on the field with Tim Tebow. Powell disappointed last season but was taken in the fourth round for a reason and should benefit from his first full NFL off-season. If both players struggle in camp, could the Jets consider adding Cedric Benson?
@TeamThirstTrap – How the 46 defense will function/look?
This year’s defense should have more depth and versatility than any unit Rex Ryan has had since taking over as the Jets head coach, particularly on the defensive line. One of the most interesting things to watch the next 3 days and all throughout training camp is the number of different positions certain players are lining up at. The Jets have the ability to run a hybrid 3-4/4-3/46 that will give offensive coordinators and opposing quarterbacks nightmares. Up front, Quinton Coples, Aaron Maybin, Calvin Pace and Muhammad Wilkerson should be all over the place depending on the personnel group. On the back end, Ryan has to figure out how to best utilize his three strong safeties: Yeremiah Bell, LaRon Landry, and Eric Smith while piecing together coverage from whomever lines up at free safety.
@KristineReese – I am very anxious to hear how Wayne Hunter is coming along
Aren’t we all? Considering that Vlad Ducasse has spent all of OTAs filling in for Matt Slauson at guard and that Stephon Heyer and Ray Willis are career journeyman, it looks like Wayne Hunter is a safe bet to be the opening day right tackle. Skepticism of this decision is more than warranted but it is also reasonable to assume that Hunter has a chance to improve to his 2010 level of play, particularly with a new coach and system that supposedly will play better to his strengths.
@e_man – Holmes
Enough said. Holmes will be the most closely scrutinized player on the Jets roster heading into the season who isn’t a quarterback. The New York media will do no favors for him but he isn’t going to help his cause by throwing helmets at open practices. How will he develop in Tony Sparano’s offense? Will he ever receive credit for doing positive things, like mentoring the younger receivers on the roster? Will his stand-off relationship with the local media continue to sour? #10 is certainly worth keeping your eyes on in the coming months.
LaRon Landry getting acclimated to the defense
I received multiple questions about Landry. He is expected to be attendance but I’m not sure anybody knows how far along he is in his rehab. It will be good to have him around the team but I wouldn’t expect to see him taking extended reps until we get into training camp. By all accounts, Yeremiah Bell has looked terrific since joining the team, so it would be nice to see how Rex plans to use him in tandem with Landry. Unfortunately, we probably won’t have a clear picture of that until week 1.