New York Jets: 2014 NFL Training Camp Preview

Camp preview: New York Jets

July, 17, 2014
Jul 17
10:00
AM ET
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NFL Nation reporter Rich Cimini examines the three biggest issues the New York Jets will face heading into training camp.

1. The pseudo quarterback competition: Michael Vick is right, it's not an open competition between him and Geno Smith. The Jets have stacked it in Smith's favor, as they plan to give him 70 to 75 percent of the first-team practice reps in training camp. There's nothing wrong with that -- as long as Smith performs well, building on his encouraging finish last season. The situation could turn volatile if Smith regresses and Vick, maximizing his limited opportunities, outplays the second-year quarterback. What, then?

Vick, 34, was mediocre in the spring, but it's not a stretch to think he could light it up in the preseason. After all, he has a background in Marty Mornhinweg's offense, so it should be a seamless transition. Publicly, Vick says he's cool with his role as the mentor/backup, but perhaps that will change if it becomes obvious he's the best man for the job. The Jets have been known to botch quarterback competitions (see Smith vs. Mark Sanchez). From the team's perspective, the best that could happen is Smith steps up and makes it an absolute no-brainer.

2. Integrating new faces on offense: After a brutal year on offense, the Jets expect to make a major improvement after acquiring wide receiver Eric Decker and running back Chris Johnson and drafting tight end Jace Amaro. The challenge is to get them up to speed in Mornhinweg's offense and to define their roles.

Decker is easy -- he's the No. 1 receiver -- but Johnson's situation is partly cloudy. Recovering from knee surgery, he didn't participate in the spring and could be on a modified practice schedule in camp. If healthy, he could make a huge difference with his home run ability as a runner. They'd also like to involve him in the passing game because he's so dangerous in space. They have two capable backs in Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell, so the objective is to formulate a plan for the regular season. If healthy, Johnson should be the lead back.

Amaro has a steep learning curve, coming from a no-huddle, spread offense in college -- so don't expect overnight success. They have to find a legitimate No. 2 option in the passing game or else Decker, not accustomed to being a No. 1, will see extra coverage. You're not in Denver anymore, Eric.

3. The greening of the secondary: For the first time since 2006, the Jets don't have anyone named Darrelle Revis or Antonio Cromartie on the back end -- and that's scary. This is a unit in transition, easily the youngest secondary of the Rex Ryan era.

They will have a second-year corner (Dee Milliner) and, in all likelihood, a rookie safety (Calvin Pryor) in the opening day lineup. The other starters could be corner Dimitri Patterson and safety Dawan Landry, both in their 30s, but they're keeping the seats warm for rookie Dexter McDougle and third-year safety Antonio Allen, respectively. In this case, change is good because the secondary was the weakest unit on the team in 2013, surrendering an inordinate amount of big plays and making only 11 interceptions.

They passed on some big-name corners in free agency, including Revis, opting to go with youth and speed. The downside is the inevitable growing pains. Ryan's defense relies heavily on communication and adjustments, and there are bound to be hiccups with so many inexperienced players.

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