AFC East: Oday Aboushi

With the offseason in the books, let's take a step back to analyze some of the players who helped themselves the most in the offseason -- and some who didn't.

THREE RISERS

1. Oday Aboushi, left guard: The former fifth-round pick, coming off what amounted to a "redshirt" rookie year, played his way into the conversation as a possible starter. He finished minicamp as the starting left guard, replacing Brian Winters, who moved to right guard to replace the injured Willie Colon. Aboushi, who struggled last year at tackle, may benefit from the move inside because it could hide his shortcomings in pass protection. Colon expects to be ready for training camp, so there will be three players vying for two starting jobs. We'll see how Aboushi responds when the pads go on.

[+] EnlargeDexter McDougle
Rich Schultz /Getty ImagesThird-round pick Dexter McDougle worked his way up to second team by the end of minicamp.
2. Dexter McDougle, cornerback: Rex Ryan admitted his concerns about drafting McDougle in the third round -- injury-related worries -- but he's a believer now. After sitting out for most of the offseason to protect his surgically repaired shoulder, McDougle returned for the final two weeks, working his way up the depth chart to second team. He's smart and aggressive, not afraid to mix it up with receivers at the line of scrimmage. The coaches now believe he could push for serious playing time.

3. Ras-I Dowling, cornerback: When the Jets were striking out in free agency, failing to land a big-time corner, Ryan kept insisting he was happy with his current personnel. He named names, always mentioning Dowling. Cynics (including me) wondered the same thing: Ras-I Dowling? He spent last season on the Jets' practice squad after being dumped by the New England Patriots, but the talent is there. He was the 33rd pick in the 2011 draft, only three spots behind Muhammad Wilkerson. It was an impressive spring for Dowling, who now has a legitimate chance to make the team.

THREE FALLERS

1. Caleb Schlauderaff, center: Only a couple of years ago, former general manager Mike Tannenbaum touted Schlauderaff as the Jets' version of Victor Cruz -- a super sleeper. He's almost asleep, all right. Schlauderaff, the Jets' only reserve lineman with regular-season experience (all of 14 snaps), was relegated to third-team duty in minicamp, falling behind Dalton Freeman as Nick Mangold's backup. Schlauderaff will have a tough time making the team if Freeman, an impressive former undrafted free agent, continues to develop.

2. Matt Simms, quarterback: Last year's feel-good story got off to a hot start in organized team activities, but he cooled off toward the end of the offseason, including minicamp. Simms didn't get as many reps as the coaches would've liked, and reps will be hard to come by in training camp as well. Looking ahead, coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said he's "looking for (Simms) to make one more big step" -- an indication he's still in the team's plans. But rookie Tajh Boyd is lurking and will provide competition. Simms needs a strong camp if he wants to claim the No. 3 job.

3. Dawan Landry, safety: From all indications, Landry enjoyed a terrific offseason, receiving effusive praise from Ryan and earning recognition for his work in the conditioning program. But, at the same time, Landry lost ground. How is that possible? They drafted Calvin Pryor in the first round and paired him with third-year safety Antonio Allen in the starting lineup, allowing the young tandem to learn and develop chemistry. Ryan insisted that Landry still will have an important role, but things won't be the same. You can bet he won't play 98 percent of the defensive snaps, as he did last season.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Notes and observations from Wednesday's OTA practice:

1. He-e-e-e-re's Dex: Third-round pick Dexter McDougle, who missed the final nine games of his senior year due to major shoulder surgery, made his practice debut for the New York Jets. After three weeks of wearing a red (non-contact) jersey, the rookie cornerback wore green with the rest of his defensive teammates and impressed Rex Ryan so much that the coach called him out in front of the team afterward. McDougle worked with the second-team nickel package and didn't seem tentative at all. This, of course, is good news for the Jets' revamped cornerback position.

[+] EnlargeEric Decker
AP Photo/Julio CortezThe Jets will be counting on receiver Eric Decker to produce in the red zone this season.
2. Rex comes clean: The Jets received mild criticism for taking McDougle in the third round, considering the time he missed at Maryland. Ryan admitted he, too, thought it was a risky pick, but others in the organization -- mainly defensive coordinat0r Dennis Thurman -- "eased my doubts" about McDougle. Ryan said Thurman, after watching McDougle on tape for the first time, came up to him and said, "I've got the guy right here." Ryan said they graded McDougle as one of the top "character" players in the draft. Assuming he has no setbacks, he will be able to participate in next week's minicamp.

3. Changing of the guards: 'Tis the time of year to experiment. With Willie Colon (arthroscopic knee surgery) sidelined for the remainder of the offseason, the Jets have been rotating players at right guard. On Wednesday, it was Brian Winters' turn. He traded places with Oday Aboushi, who moved to Winters' spot at left guard. No, this doesn't mean Colon is in danger of losing his starting job. Ryan acknowledged that Colon, who is expected to return for training camp, is a likely starter, but not necessarily at right guard. Interesting. Moving the players around in June creates competition and flexibility that could help in training camp.

4. Geno and Vick: There was a concentration on the two-minute offense and the red zone in practice. Both Geno Smith and Michael Vick looked sharp in the red zone, each quarterback completing four of five passes in team drills. Smith got most of the work with the starters. His best moment came when he stepped up in the pocket and found wide receiver Eric Decker in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Decker dominated in the red zone, one of the reasons why the Jets are paying him $7 million a year. Vick displayed his old form, scrambling for a touchdown. He also made a nice scoring pass to rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders.

5. Two-minute hiccups: Smith wasn't nearly as crisp in the hurry-up situation. He started off with a deep ball to Decker, but the drive stalled as he misfired on three of his last four passes. First-round pick Calvin Pryor came on a safety blitz to disrupt Smith on one play.

6. Rex on the QB competition/non-competition: Not surprisingly, Ryan spoke glowingly on the Smith-Vick battle -- even though it's not really a battle, if you ask Vick. "Both guys are sharp," Ryan said. "They're pushing themselves and pushing each other. That's exactly what we wanted to have happen. ... I've been really impressed with it."

7. Attendance report: Players that didn't participate in the voluntary practice included wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (personal), running back Mike Goodson (undisclosed), running back Chris Johnson (knee), running back Daryl Richardson (toe), wide receiver Jacoby Ford (undisclosed), Colon (knee), rookie wide receiver Shaq Evans (school obligation) and linebacker Antwan Barnes (knee). Ryan said he expects Goodson to show up for next week's mandatory minicamp. As expected, Johnson -- six months removed from knee surgery -- isn't expected to do much, if anything, in the minicamp. Ford will be full speed by next week.

8. Dee's cranky hammy: Cornerback Dee Milliner, who sat out last week's open practice, participated on a limited basis. Officially, the team is calling it hamstring "tightness," not a pulled hamstring. Got that? Ryan said they kept him out for precautionary reasons.

9. Odds and ends: Pryor continued to work with the starters. It was Pryor and Antonio Allen at safety, with Dawan Landry practicing with the second team. Landry already knows the defense; the plan is to let Pryor and Allen get as many reps as possible. ... The Jets are continuing their penalty/push-up tradition. When a penalty is committed, the entire team drops for 10 push ups. General manager John Idzik was among the non-players that did pushups. ... Matt Simms, battling rookie Tajh Boyd for the No. 3 quarterback job, threw an interception. ... Rookie tight end Jace Amaro, coming off a three-drop day last week, had another drop but looked much better catching the ball.

Examining team needs: Guard, tackle

February, 13, 2014
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The right side of the New York Jets' offensive line is headed to free agency -- guard Willie Colon and tackle Austin Howard. With no plug-and-play replacements on the roster, it behooves the Jets to re-sign both.

Howard
They will try to get Howard locked up before he hits the open market. A former practice-squad player who came up the hard way, Howard, still only 27 (by opening day), is the kind of player you want to keep in your program. He's a two-year starter with many good years of football ahead of him, and he undoubtedly would draw considerable interest on the open market. He allowed only two sacks, tied for the league lead among right tackles, according to ProFootballFocus. Howard was an integral part of the running game. In fact, only one team ran behind their right tackle more often than the Jets did with Howard, according to NFL stats. How much is he worth? New England Patriots right tackle Sebastian Vollmer is a good comparison. A year ago, he signed a four-year contract for close to $17 million.

Colon's situation is complicated by a torn biceps in the final game. He will miss a good chunk of the offseason, but he should be good to go by training camp. Colon, who will be 31, is a good hold-the-fort player, certainly worth another one-year contract. He won't draw interest now, but he could be a factor in the secondary free-agent market.

Projected offseason plan: The Jets will make a strong push to re-sign Howard, but they will take a wait-and-see approach at right guard. They have Oday Aboushi and Will Campbell waiting behind Howard and Colon, respectively, but neither player saw action last season. They were inactive for every game, basically rookie red-shirts. They were deemed developmental players, especially Campbell, a former college defensive lineman. It would be a stretch to think they would be ready for starting duty early in 2014, but general manager John Idzik kept them around for a reason. Aboushi and Campbell will be a good barometer of the Jets' scouting and player development.

Free agency: Slim pickings at right tackle. Zach Strief (New Orleans Saints) would be the best option. There is not much at guard, either. Some scouting services rate Richie Incognito (Miami Dolphins) are the top free-agent guard, but do the Jets really want to go there?

Draft: After drafting three offensive linemen last year, the last thing the Jets want to do is go back for more. But if they were to lose Howard, they would be able to replace him in the first round (18th overall). ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has six tackles rated among his top 32 players. At 18, they could be in position for Zack Martin (Notre Dame) or Cyrus Kouandjio (Alabama). But with other needs on offense, they would be just spinning their wheels if they to use a premium pick to draft a Howard replacement.

Green Day: Pettine factor overrated

September, 20, 2013
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A morning briefing on news and goings on around the New York Jets:

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Buffalo Bills have a copy of the New York Jets' defensive playbook. Not literally, of course, but Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine spent 11 seasons at Rex Ryan's side, so he knows every nuance of the Jets' scheme.

How much value does that have? Not much, according to Pettine's successor, Dennis Thurman.

"I don't think it's anything where you have to sit here and worry about it," Thurman said. "It's not the scheme, it's the players within the scheme. ... Remember this: Buddy Ryan had the 46 defense in 1985, right? Jeff Fisher took that same defense to the L.A. Rams with John Robinson and tried to run the same system. They got fired. It's not the system, it's the players. It's always going to be about the players."

On Sunday, we'll see which team has the better ... um, players.

ICYMI: Guard Willie Colon was upset with the $35,000 fine levied by the league for his role in the New England melee. He will appeal. Some perspective: That's about 60 percent of his weekly game check, which totals about $58,800. ... How safe is Geno Smith as the starter? Ryan downplayed the speculation about Matt Simms, indicating Smith is his guy -- even if he's not The Guy. Understand? ... Rookie cornerback Dee Milliner was benched last week because the coaches wanted to help his confidence. How's that? ... C.J. Spiller is fast. The Jets aren't worried. ... Receiver Santonio Holmes (foot) didn't practice, but that was planned ahead of time. Rookie offensive tackle Oday Aboushi, a fifth-round pick, hurt his knee in practice. No initial word on the severity, but keep an eye on this.

New York Jets cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
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Most significant move: It wasn't a surprise, but the New York Jets waived Greg McElroy, their only quarterback not named Mark Sanchez who has started a game in the NFL. Granted, McElroy has only one career start, but the move is significant because it underscores the lack of experience at the position. If Sanchez (shoulder) doesn't dress for the season opener, it leaves the position to Geno Smith, Matt Simms and Graham Harrell, who have a combined total of four career pass attempts -- all by Harrell. The former Packers backup made the final cut despite having spent only three days with the Jets. McElroy was waived with an injury, so he wouldn't have been ready for Week 1 anyway. Still, this is a precarious situation to say the least.

Not much depth on offense: Aside from quarterback, the Jets are perilously thin at a few spots. They have only five receivers, one of whom (Santonio Holmes) is a question mark because of his surgically repaired foot. The group includes a rookie free agent, Ryan Spadola. They also don't have an experienced backup at tackle. Jason Smith was supposed to be that guy, but he was atrocious in the final preseason game. Vladimir Ducasse can play some tackle, but that's not his best spot. Rookie OT Oday Aboushi (fifth-round pick) isn't ready to play. They have low numbers in the backfield -- only four backs, although Mike Goodson will be eligible to return from his suspension in Week 5.

What's ahead: The Jets need help on offense. You can't go into a season with Aboushi as your No. 3 tackle, so look for them to address this over the next 24 hours. Anybody up for a Wayne Hunter reunion? The wide-receiver situation is interesting. Right now, the Jets have only three healthy and experienced receivers. They're either confident Holmes will return for the opener or they have plans to add a veteran. The quarterback situation bears watching, too. If Sanchez is sidelined a few weeks, it might behoove New York to import an experienced backup. A couple of former Marty Mornhinweg-ites are available -- Vince Young and Trent Edwards.

Jets cuts: QB Greg McElroy (injured), RB Mossis Madu (injured), WR Michael Campbell, WR Mohamed Massaquoi, WR Ben Obomanu, WR Zach Rogers, TE Chris Pantale, C Erik Cook, OT J.B. Shugarts, OT Jason Smith, DL Junior Aumavae, DL Lanier Coleman, DL Tevita Finau, DL Antonio Garay, LB Troy Davis, LB JoJo Dickson, LB Jacquies Smith, DB Royce Adams, DB Mike Edwards, DB Rontez Miles, PK Dan Carpenter.

Placed on reserve/suspended: RB Mike Goodson.

W2W4: Jets vs. Eagles

August, 28, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets close the preseason Thursday against the Eagles at MetLife Stadium -- the annual backup bowl. Kickoff is 7 p.m. Stories to follow:

1. Quarterback drama on hold: Mark Sanchez (shoulder) is out and, although the team hasn't made it official, rookie Geno Smith also will sit. This is a smart move by coach Rex Ryan. Really, it's the only move. Sure, Smith could use the work, as he showed in throwing three interceptions and taking a safety Saturday against the Giants, but it makes no sense to expose him to potential injury. After all, Smith could be the opening-day starter, depending on Sanchez's recovery. Ryan messed up last week with Sanchez, and he knows another blunder of that magnitude would put him in Woody Johnson's doghouse. (Probably the most luxurious doghouse in the neighborhood, though.)

2. The Simms spotlight: Matt Simms, who entered camp fourth on the depth chart, will start under center against the Eagles. He'll probably play most of the game, considering Greg McElroy (knee) is out. This is the opportunity of a lifetime for Simms, son of Giants icon Phil Simms. He's having a terrific preseason, sporting a 137.5 passer rating, and could conceivably dislodge McElroy from the No. 3 job. Simms is rough around the edges, but he has the best arm on the team and the coaches love his moxie. Newly signed Graham Harrell, who arrived Wednesday, will be available for relief duty. The Eagles will start No. 2 QB Nick Foles, a former pupil of new Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. If the Jets were concerned about Sanchez's health to the point where they felt they needed a veteran, it would fuel heavy Foles speculation.

3. Position battles (other than quarterback): Placekicker and free safety remain open. PK Dan Carpenter was signed this week to compete with incumbent Nick Folk, who imperiled his spot last week with a missed field goal in OT. Jaiquawn Jarrett, a former second-round pick of the Eagles, is expected to start at free safety, but Antonio Allen is leading the competition.

4. Cinderella lives in Jersey: WR Ryan Spadola, an undrafted rookie from Howell, N.J., via Lehigh, is the feel-good story of the summer. He's inching his way up the depth chart and has an outstanding chance to make the 53-man roster. Spadola leads the team with 169 receiving yards on seven catches, including a 70-yard play Saturday that set up the game-winning field goal in overtime. He's battling veterans Ben Obomanu and Mohamed Massaquoi for the fifth receiver spot; there's also a chance the Jets could keep six. It would be a stunner if Spadola is cut.

5. On the line: This will be an important game for the three draft picks on the offensive line -- LG Brian Winters (third round), OT Oday Aboushi (fifth) and G Will Campbell (sixth). Aboushi and Campbell are on the bubble and need to play well to make the team. Aboushi's chances were hurt with last week's return of veteran backup Jason Smith. Campbell, making the transition to offense after playing defensive line in college, looks bound for the practice squad. Winters, uneven last week in his debut, could push presumptive starter Vladimir Ducasse as the season progresses.

Links: Traits that shaped Doug Marrone

July, 15, 2013
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Buffalo Bills

Buffalo had three players in the Pro Bowl last season. The team's website asks, who will get the nod this year?

Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News profiles new Bills coach Doug Marrone. Self-confidence, drive and a willingness to question authority are traits that have helped shape Marrone’s football career, Gaughan writes.

The Bills and star safety Jairus Byrd have no contract talks scheduled for Monday, the deadline for franchised players to sign long-term deals, a source close to the talks told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Miami Dolphins

Running back Lamar Miller is impressing his peers this summer during workouts in North Miami Beach, writes Marc Sessler of NFL.com. "He's the fastest running back I've ever seen," Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew said.

The team's website previews the Dolphins' running backs.

A Dolphins spokesman said the team isn't commenting on center Mike Pouncey sporting a "Free Hernandez" hat, an apparent reference for his former University of Florida teammate, Aaron Hernandez, who is facing a murger charge.

Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald addresses a possible deal for fullback Vonta Leach.

New England Patriots

The team's website continues its countdown of 13 questions for 2013. The latest topic -- the quarterback position, specifically as it relates to Tim Tebow.

The Patriots have taken some risks on players thought to have questions in character. That's hurting the team now, Christopher L. Gasper of the Boston Globe writes.

Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com updates the New England roster.

SI.com's Peter King includes a section on the lessons he takes away from Hernandez's murder charge.

New York Jets

If the Jets struggle in 2013 and coach Rex Ryan is let go, he shouldn't worry about future employment, Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News writes. The TV networks should be pushing for Ryan's services.

Tight end Kellen Winslow Jr.'s goal for 2013: 100 catches for the Jets.

Remember Strat-O-Matic baseball? Ben Shpigel of the New York Times writes that Rex Ryan was a big fan back in the day.

In an exclusive interview with the New York Post, fifth-round pick Oday Aboushi — a Brooklyn native who is believed to be the first Palestinian-American ever drafted by an NFL team — adamantly denied charges leveled by a conservative website last week that Aboushi is anti-Semitic and uses social media to endorse what they consider Palestinian terrorist groups.

Links: Lamar Miller learns from Frank Gore

July, 12, 2013
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Buffalo Bills

Free safety Jairus Byrd and the Bills are still far from striking a deal before the July 15 deadline to sign the one-year franchise tender. "I would be completely and utterly shocked if there was a deal done by Monday," a league source told sports station WGR 550. "There are no talks going on. Someone would have to seriously cave."

Undrafted rookie Kendall Gaskins says he'll likely be used more as a running back instead of at fullback in the Bills' offense.

Veteran kicker Rian Lindell has been a mainstay for the Bills since 2003, but that doesn't mean rookie Dustin Hopkins isn't going to compete for the job.

Miami Dolphins

Second-year running back Lamar Miller is getting a summer education of his own, working out with 49ers back Frank Gore. “Since Lamar started gravitating toward Frank, his work ethic and mentality are unparalleled,” said Pete Bommarito, who runs the Bommarito Performance Systems, where Gore, Miller and many other NFL players train in the offseason, according to the Miami Herald.

Rookie first-round pick Dion Jordan joins Miami’s defensive line, the team's deepest unit.

A.J. Francis, a 309-pound rookie defensive tackle for the Dolphins, says via Twitter that ESPN the Magazine's Body Issue should include a variety of people.

Andy Behrens of Roto Arcade says the most important variable for Dolphins fantasy owners is quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

New England Patriots

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski held a book signing for "Growing up Gronk" on Thursday, and he said he's "in great spirits" about the upcoming season.

As the Aaron Hernandez case continues on, the Miami Herald's David J. Neal has a piece of advice for those looking to place responsibility and blame: "Leave Urban Meyer alone."

Continuing a month-long series analyzing players who are on the roster bubble and where they might potentially fit in 2013, ESPNBoston.com's Mike Rodak looks at tight end Daniel Fells.

Tight end is the position being most talked about around Foxborough, and ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss projects how the position might play out given all the question marks.

New York Jets

Jonathan Mael, new media coordinator for MLB.com, recently published a tweet in which he compared Jets' offensive lineman Oday Aboushi to former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.

Geno Smith’s failure to show up at what is largely considered a team-building weekend doesn’t speak highly of the relationship between the rookie quarterback and veteran Mark Sanchez, writes Seth Walder of the New York Daily News.

NFL.com's Dan Hanzus digs up Jets coach Rex Ryan's autobiography, "Play Like You Mean It," only to find that "Ryan wanted to write a book about the beginning of a great future for the New York Jets. Instead, he accidentally managed to distill everything that's frustrating about being a fan of New York's other team."

Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg talks with Eric Allen, of the team's official website, about the changes in store for the Jets' offense this season.

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