The Jets will report to camp on the 19th of July, a week earlier than most franchises. Although a lot of starting jobs are already secured, there are a number of training camp positional battles to watch.
5 Jets Training Camp Battles
#1) Offensive Tackle
The Jets may have a shiny new toy, but who protects him remains a mystery. If there is one position that could unravel the hope of Jets fans, it’s offensive tackle.
Everyone expects Duane Brown to start on the blindside. He’s entering his 16th year in the league and gained the respect of the coaching staff last year by playing through injury. Brown is expected to be fully healthy, and if he is, he’s the starting left tackle.
The right side is significantly more complicated and is perhaps the most important of the Jet’s training camp battles. Former first-round pick Mekhi Becton is the favorite to secure the job, but he’s only played 48 snaps since 2020 having spent basically two years rehabbing from injuries. He’s dropped a lot of weight, but missing two years’ worth of football is significant.
Max Mitchell stepped in last year and did a fine job for the Jets considering he wasn’t expected to play. He improved as the season went on before the discovery of blood clots brought his season to a close. He now has medication to keep that under control and he’s been highlighted as a standout performer from OTA’s by the Jets beat.
Billy Turner is a veteran presence and has a history with Aaron Rodgers, but is expected to act as a swing tackle and emergency fill on the interior. Carter Warren being a mid-round rookie out of Pittsburgh is on the outside looking in right now.
#2) Starting Center
Head Coach Robert Saleh has already confirmed that this will be one of the Jets training camp battles to watch.
Joe Tippmann was a second-round choice of the Jets this year and the expectation is that he’ll take over the starting center position. But, so far through OTA’s, he’s spent more time at guard with Connor McGovern acting as the starting center.
Now that could be based on him being the veteran and the coaching staff wanting the young Tippmann to earn his stripes, but it’s going to be worth watching over July and August.
Tippmann is coming off a dominant year with Wisconsin having allowed 1 sack and 5 pressures all season. His athleticism makes him the ideal center for this zone-heavy-based rushing attack, and the expectation is he’ll win the job.
However, McGovern has been around the block a few times and he’s been with the Jets since 2020. The Jets retained Connor on a steal of a salary, and although he’s not been among the league’s best centers, he has been much improved after a disaster first year in New York.
#3) Weakside Linebacker
If the Jets decide to bring back Kwon Alexander, this is no longer regarded as a camp battle. Alexander manned the weakside linebacker spot last year and did a fine job. He’s currently still a free agent and the Jets remain interested.
If the Jets are unable to bring Alexander back, the water gets muddy. Jamien Sherwood is highly regarded at 1 Jets Drive, but the Jets see him as the eventual replacement for C.J. Mosley. As a former safety, he has the coverage ability to play weakside linebacker, but it remains to be seen if the Jets would be willing to do that.
Hamsah talked the talk after being drafted in the sixth-round back in 2021, saying the Jets got a ‘first-round talent’. Unfortunately, he really hasn’t done a lot over the last two years and he’s more likely to get cut than cement himself as the weakside linebacker.
Rookie Zaire Barnes is an interesting name to watch, but it’s a lot to ask a 6th-round rookie out of Western Michigan to come in and start on a championship-caliber defense.
The Jets picked up a lot of UDFA linebackers in the hope of striking gold. But former Alcon State man Claudin Cherelus is more suited inside at the middle linebacker position. Southern Oklahoma State linebacker Maalik Hall has the speed, but again it’s a lot to ask.
The Jets really need to bring back Kwon, even if they do end up with just two linebackers on the field a lot based on their personnel groupings.
4) Free Safety
This continued to be a position of flux for the Jets. Veteran Lamarcus Joyner manned the position last year, and while he’s still a free agent he’s unlikely to be brought back.
The Jets traded for Ravens safety Chuck Clark in the hope of pairing him with strong safety Jordan Whitehead. Unfortunately, Clarke suffered an ACL injury which will keep him sidelined for the entire year.
With the defense expected to lead the Jets in 2023, having uncertainty at two levels is concerning.
The Jets brought in former Packers safety Adrian Amos, but according to PFF, he’s been responsible for 12 touchdowns over the last two years. Now on the wrong side of 30, it’s fair to ask whether he’s on the decline.
One name to watch is Tony Adams. The former Illinois safety was picked up as a UDFA last off-season and played over 100 snaps for the Jets on defense last year. The coaching staff love his athletic ability, and he has the speed to cover a lot of ground.
Corner Jarrick Bernard-Converse who was taken in the sixth round this year out of LSU has been lining up at both corner and safety, and he may be a dark horse to watch for that free safety position.
5) Wide Receiver
The Jets are set at the top end of their receiver depth chart. Garrett Wilson will lead the line, followed by Allen Lazard, Corey Davis, Mecole Hardman, and Randall Cobb.
If you expect the Jets to carry six wide receivers, that leaves just one roster spot available. Denzel Mims has been disappointing since being a second-round pick out of Baylor in 2020, but he will start as the early favorite.
He will have plenty of competition though. Especially as Mims notoriously doesn’t play special teams. The sixth wide receiver on most rosters will have to play special teams.
The Jets have a number of intriguing options. Irvin Charles, Jason Brownlee, Xavier Gipson, and Jerome Kapp have all made plays over the OTA period of the off-season. Jason Brownlee in particular has impressed in the early portion.
Brownlee spent the 2022 season with the Southern Miss Golden Eagles and caught 55 passes for 891 yards and eight touchdowns. With more consistent quarterback play, it could have been considerably more.
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