AFC East: Will Campbell

Examining team needs: Guard, tackle

February, 13, 2014
Feb 13
10:00
AM ET
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.

W2W4: Jets vs. Eagles

August, 28, 2013
8/28/13
8:14
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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.

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