With Week 3 of the preseason already under way, we’re already seeing depth chart battles, roster sports up for grabs, and a slew of exciting developments. Yes, football is finally back.
That being said, Locker Room Update presents you with our latest roundtable. Some of our writers got together and talked about their respective teams, naming the most intriguing aspects of their preseasons.
Christa Levitas (Jets): The Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan has done a great job adding talent on both sides of the ball. However, one of the most interesting battles this preseason for the New York Jets has to be the wide receiver battle. The Jets have not had a 1,000 yard wide receiver since Jerricho Cotchery back in 2007. Before the Jets entered the 2015 NFL draft, many scouts’ analysts listed the wide receiver position as one of the top 5 position weakest on the Jets roster. The Jets have struggled to find consistent playmakers at the receiver position; in years past the Jets brought or traded for players such as Santonio Holmes, Percy Harvin, and Braylon Edwards. The past regimes in years past brought in players who were only good their first year or players who injury prone and inconsistent who did very little in the long run to help the Jets.
The Jets struggled to draft and find playmakers at the wide receiver position. For example, back in the 2012 draft the Jets traded up to acquire Stephen Hill who never lived up to his draft status. Since then, this position has improved drastically. Not only did Mike Maccagnan draft a deep threat and a home run threat in Devin Smith, but he also traded a 5th round pick to the Chicago Bears in order to acquire a No. 1 wide receiver in Brandon Marshall. This makes Eric Decker a No. 2 wide receiver, a position he is more suited for. This put Jeremy Kerley who has the New York Jets most reliable target in years past as the 3rd wide receiver to possibly the 4th wide receiver in the depth chart depending how this position plays out. The Jets general manager also traded down with the Houston Texans in order to acquire DeVier Posey, a wide receiver he has drafted and worked with from years past.
During training camp, there have been a lot of wide receivers who have been standing out and may make it hard for the Jets to cut down on their overall talent at the position. Players such as Shaq Evans and Quincy Enunwa who were drafted during last year’s draft have been impressing. Enunwa was has started to turn heads with his impressive practice over his past few games which helped him gain starting reps during the green and white practice. Evans has also impressed the coaching staff with playmaking abilities and his upside. Now Evans is listed as candidate as a player to contribute on punt returns which could help him stand out. Overall, this position is filled with talent from players who have been on the roster stepping up to players who are trying to make a case for themselves as to why they deserve to be on the roster.
Other players have also stepped up during training camp by improving on his hand catcher. Walter Powell who the Jets claimed by waivers after the Cardinals cut him is looking great on special teams showing off his speed and explosive. T.J. Graham also looks like a great candidate on special teams, who has the speed to help spread out the field. Another wide receiver is Chris Owusu who was impressive during the Jets last game the Miami Dolphins and had experience being a great playmaker on special teams from his Stanford days. Then there are the undrafted free agents such as Jonathon Rumph, Austin Hill, and Arthur Williams who are all players trying to work their way up on their roster. Rumph has impressive size and can use his size to play deep. He is an undrafted free agent from Georgia. Austin Hill has impressive is a good catcher, dispute losing speed due to his ACL he suffered in college, he has a lot of potential and could be an option on the Jets practice. Last, is Williams who was signed last week. Currently, the Jets have 14 wide receivers on their roster competing with possibly only 2 open spots.
Alex Peterman (Bengals): For the Cincinnati Bengals, there are two really interesting aspects of the preseason that have caught my eye. The first is the changing of the guard at the cornerback position for the Bengals. With Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard initiating the youth movement at the back end for Cincinnati, it’s been a pleasure to watch the growth of these two talented players. The Bengals have consistently had solid secondary depth over the last few years. Because of this, the team was able to ease Kirkpatrick into a potential starting role for 2015 by starting him on special teams while giving him spot work at cornerback.
From my conversation with Dan Hoard of the Bengals last year, it appeared that both players were progressing extremely well. For Dennard, that says volumes. The former first round pick out of Michigan State is competing for starting time this season, and his development has shown both in training camp against the Giants and in their first preseason game.
The other development is A.J. McCarron. Before this preseason, the college star last threw an in-game pass when he was in an Alabama uniform. So far in the last two games with the Bengals, he’s been a surprising star. Against both first-stringers and depth players alike, McCarron has placed extremely solid numbers. What’s more impressive is the timing and situation of some of his bigger throws – 3rd down conversions against the blitz, and long strikes to Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert. It’s been exciting football to watch.
Robert Melofchik (Jets): There has not be a dull moment in the New York Jets training camp. First, year general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles have been tested with Sheldon Richardson issues and Geno Smith’s locker room fight. Who’s the Jets Quarterback? Geno Smith was having a good camp. He was going be the starter until his locker room issue. The Jets could put him on short term IR. The Jets will have to stay at four quarterbacks until Smith is healthy enough to return. GM Maccagnan said in an interview with WFAN’s Mike Francesa that Smith is unlikely to go on short-term injured reserve. Ryan Fitzpatrick is now the Jets’ starting quarterback, since Smith is out for about four games. The Jets sign Matt Fynn to become a backup to Fitzpatrick til Smith returns. The Jets’ third-string quarterback right now is rookie Bryce Petty, who is a long-term project player.
A battle at Right Guard: the Jets offense line will have Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson; both are going on entering their 10th season on the line. Breno Giacomini and James Carpenter are together again – they won a super bowl together on Seahawks. The right guard is a battle between Willie Colon and Brian Winters.
Jason Barbin (Eagles): The most intriguing thing for me about the Philadelphia Eagles so far this offseason has to be the ongoing development of Sam Bradford.
Coming off two knee reconstruction surgeries and into a brand new offence he was always going to be someone every Eagles fan kept an eye on.
So far the majority of the news coming out of the Eagles camp has been positive news about Bradford and it has me really excited to see just what he can do this season.
There will always be talk until the season starts about the possibility of Mark Sanchez taking the snaps come week one but Bradford is the better quarterback and barring injury, should be the Eagles first choice to start.
Chip Kelly wanted him on his team for a reason and I for one believe there is a method to his madness.