New York Jets: Camp Preview

Camp preview: Secondary

July, 24, 2013
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Breaking down the Jets, position by position, as they prepare for training camp. Camp opens Thursday; this is the final installment in the series:

Position: Secondary

[+] EnlargeDee Milliner
AP Photo/Bill KostrounWill Dee Milliner be ready to start by Week 1?
Projected starters: Antonio Cromartie, Dee Milliner, Dawan Landry, Josh Bush

Projected reserves: Kyle Wilson, Aaron Berry, Ellis Lankster, Antonio Allen, Darrin Walls, Jaiquawn Jarrett

New faces: Milliner, Landry, Jarrett

The departed: Darrelle Revis, LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell, Eric Smith

Player to watch: Milliner, naturally. He was the ninth overall pick in the draft and, ostensibly, will replace Revis. He will eventually replace Wilson as a starter, allowing Wilson to return to his nickel role. Whether that happens by Week 1 remains to be seen. Milliner, who underwent shoulder surgery in March, missed the entire offseason. When he's up to speed, Milliner has a chance to be special. He's fundamentally sound and not afraid to tackle. He doesn't have elite ball skills, but his cover skills should translate nicely in the Jets' man-to-man schemes.

Potential strength: Depth at cornerback. The Jets traded the best cornerback in the NFL to the Bucs -- Revis, in case you didn't know -- but they will survive because of Cromartie, Milliner and Wilson. Nowadays, you need three good corners in the pass-happy NFL. The Jets should be able to line up against any team without having to be afraid -- assuming Cromartie can duplicate last season's performance as the No. 1 corner.

Potential weakness: The Jets overhauled the safety position, letting LaRon Landry and Bell walk out the door. The replacements are Dawan Landry (LaRon's older brother) and ... well, that's a good question. Bush and Allen, both second-year players, are the leading candidates for the other starting job. Take your pick: Bush is better against the pass; Allen is the better run defender. Neither is a blue-chipper. Maybe new DBs coach Tim McDonald, a former All-Pro, still has something left in the tank.

Wild card: Rex Ryan and new defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, a former secondary coach, are smart cookies when it comes to camouflaging weaknesses. Maybe, just maybe, they can coach around the safety issue, using extra corners in the sub packages. That's not a far-fetched idea, considering their three AFC East opponents employ spread offenses. The back end of Ryan's defenses is built around the corners, not the safeties.

Camp preview: 10 hottest issues

July, 22, 2013
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The Jets open training camp Thursday in Cortland. After a tumultuous offseason, there are more questions than usual. Our top 10 issues confronting the Jets:

1. Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith?: This is truly an open quarterback competition. Sanchez predicts he will win the job; Smith believes he has a "great shot." Chances are, it'll be Sanchez -- unless the rookie lights it up in the preseason.

2. Santonio Holmes' foot: The Jets' most accomplished wide receiver is expected to begin camp on the physically unable-to-perform list. He could be activated at any time, but it might be weeks before he's cleared to practice. Will he be ready for Week 1?

3. Replacing Darrelle Revis. Owner Woody Johnson traded his best player to the Bucs because he didn't want to pay $16 million a year, and now the Jets are hoping No. 1 pick Dee Milliner can step into the lineup from day one. He's coming off offseason shoulder surgery, so he'll be playing catch-up in camp.

4. Defensive overhaul: The Jets could have seven new starters, a remarkable number even in the here-today, gone-tomorrow world of the NFL. When you have that many new pieces, expect growing pains.

5. The new old Rex: It's a make-or-break year for Rex Ryan, who will be evaluated by new GM John Idzik. In an attempt to save his job, Ryan has tweaked his philosophy, taking control of the defense. He also will crank up the blitzing, shades of 2009, when the Jets led the league in defense.

6. Martyball: Marty Mornhinweg, the third offensive coordinator in three years, is installing a West Coast system with the hope of sparking some electricity in a unit short on talent. He's a proven playcaller, and he should help the regressing Sanchez, but don't expect miracles.

7. Finding good hands people: The biggest problem on the roster is wide receiver. Holmes still isn't 100 percent, so second-year WR Stephen Hill has to take a major step after a disappointing rookie year. TE Kellen Winslow is a long shot. If no one steps up, the quarterbacks have no chance.

8. Who carries the rock? For the first time since 1994, the Jets are entering a season without a 1,000-yard rusher on the roster. Chris Ivory, Mike Goodson and Bilal Powell will
battle for playing time. The Jets think Ivory could be a top-10 back if he stays healthy.

9. Q's new home: Second-year DE Quinton Coples is attempting to transition to outside linebacker. In theory, it should help the pass rush, but how many 280-pound linebackers are there?

10. Safety dance: Safety is the thinnest position on the roster. Who will start opposite Dawan Landry? The leading candidate is Josh Bush, who has virtually no experience. The Jets will really miss Dawan's younger brother, LaRon.

Camp preview: Defensive line

July, 22, 2013
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Breaking down the Jets, position by position, as they prepare for training camp, which opens Thursday:

Position: Defensive line

Projected starters: Muhammad Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis, Sheldon Richardson.

[+] EnlargeKenrick Ellis
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesKenrick Ellis is preparing for his third NFL season -- but his first as a starter. What kind of production will the Jets get from him?
Projected reserves: Antonio Garay, Damon Harrison.

New faces: Richardson, Garay.

The departed: Sione Po'uha, Mike DeVito.

Player to watch: Richardson. The Jets' scouts were so high on Richardson (No. 13 overall pick) that they rated him fourth on their draft board. He's an athletic lineman with a terrific motor, and he's expected to play a key role on the revamped line. The question is, does he fit Rex Ryan's 3-4 base defense? Richardson isn't accustomed to being a two-gap lineman, so there will be a transition period. Ryan won't get the best of Richardson if he lines him up as a 5-technique end in a straight 3-4 front, so he's likely to move him around, using him in 1- and 3-technique positions as well.

Potential strength: Without question, this is the youngest and most athletic defensive line of the Ryan era. And it should be. After all, they've picked first-round linemen in the past three drafts -- Richardson, Wilkerson and Quinton Coples, who will be used in a hybrid role. Wilkerson, entering his third year, has a chance to be one of the best 3-4 DEs in the league; some say he's already there. The line started to get a bit creaky last season, especially with the banged-up Po'uha at nose tackle. The '13 group has a chance to be special if it realizes its potential.

Potential weakness: Depth. A bad injury to one of the top four players would be devastating. The depth isn't as bad as it looks on paper, because they can use Coples, Calvin Pace, Antwan Barnes and Garrett McIntyre -- all outside linebackers -- at defensive end in certain fronts. Nevertheless, they still need a veteran backup to increase the comfort level.

Wild card: Ellis. This is Year 3, so he's out of mulligans. After two years of adversity (injuries and legal problems), Ellis steps into a starting role, replacing the well-respected Po'uha. Basically, Ellis was handed the job based on his potential. He has the size (6-foot-4, 346 pounds) and raw ability to control the point of attack, but he's still green and needs technique work. His small-college background bought him a two-year honeymoon. Now it's time to deliver. If not, Garay could assume the starting job on the nose.

Camp preview: Special teams

July, 20, 2013
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Joe McKnightJim McIsaac/Getty ImagesFollowing an "off" year, look for Joe McKnight to return to the top of his game this season.
Breaking down the Jets, one position at a time, as we head to training camp:

Position: Special teams

Projected starters: Nick Folk (PK), Robert Malone (P), Tanner Purdum (LS), Joe McKnight (KOR), Jeremy Kerley (PR).

Projected reserves: Antonio Cromartie (KOR), Mike Goodson (KOR), Kyle Wilson (PR).

New faces: Goodson.

The departed: None.

Player to watch: Actually, we're going to focus on a coach -- new special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica, who replaces the retired Mike Westhoff. Kotwica has big shoes to fill (just ask Westhoff), but he spent the better part of six years at Westhoff's side, learning from the best. Under Kotwica, a decorated officer who served seven years in the army, the unit will be disciplined and well prepared. But he will have a hard time matching Westhoff's ability to make in-game adjustments.

Potential strength: It was an "off" year for McKnight, slowed by a severe ankle sprain, but he still finished third in the NFL with a 27.5-yard return average. He's healthy and dropped a few pounds in the offseason, so he should be at the top of his game. McKnight's ability to create field position with long returns will be a huge factor, especially with the offense likely to experience growing pains.

Potential weakness: The kicking units were an uncharacteristic mess last season, a virtual comedy of errors. There were so many moving parts at the bottom of the roster, due to injuries, that Westhoff was forced to juggle lineups on a weekly basis. In fact, 20 players ended up playing at least 100 snaps on special teams, 16 of whom are back this year. The lack of quality depth and speed on the roster contributed to the woes. When constructing the roster, Rex Ryan should put an emphasis on special teams, looking for run-and-hit players who will help raise the overall level of play in the kicking game.

Wild card: Kerley has a chance to be an above-average punt returner ... if he takes an aggressive approach. He set an NFL record with 36 fair catches. Run, Jeremy, run!

Camp preview: Offensive line

July, 19, 2013
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JetsGeorge Gojkovich/Getty ImagesThe Jets offensive line will work in some new pieces to protect Mark Sanchez this season.
Breaking down the Jets, position by position, as we head to training camp, which begins July 25:

Position: Offensive line

Projected starters: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Brian Winters, Nick Mangold, Willie Colon, Austin Howard.

Projected reserves: Stephen Peterman, Vladimir Ducasse, Oday Aboushi, Dalton Freeman.

New faces: Winters, Colon, Peterman, Aboushi, Freeman, William Campbell.

The departed: Brandon Moore, Matt Slauson.

Player to watch: The Jets are very high on Winters, their third-round pick, and they expect him to push for a starting job. They're rebuilding at guard, so they might as well go with youth if the kid is up to the challenge. The one thing that could hurt his chances of being a Day 1 starter is that he has no experience at guard; he played left tackle at Kent State. But Winters is an intelligent player and he'll benefit from playing between two smart cookies, Mangold and Ferguson. If he doesn't start immediately, Winters figures to crack the lineup at some point.

Potential strength: Two of the top four players on the team reside on the offensive line -- Mangold and Ferguson, former GM Mike Tannenbaum's first two draft picks. They're the cornerstones. As long as Mangold and Ferguson are healthy, the line has a chance. Mangold has a lot of responsibility because he'll be breaking in two new guards. His play slipped a bit last season (he allowed three sacks, according to Pro Football Focus), so it'll be interesting to see if it was the start of a trend or just a blip on the screen. Howard was a pleasant surprise as a first-year starter, but he needs to become more consistent in pass protection (10 sacks).

Potential weakness: Chemistry could be an early issue. The last time the Jets went into a season with two new starters on the line was 2008, when Alan Faneca and Damien Woody joined the party. At that point, the line was a pillar of stability, but new GM John Idzik decided to shake it up, declining to re-sign Moore (still a productive player) and Slauson. The goal was to bring more athleticism to the unit. They accomplished that, but they sacrificed continuity.

Wild card: Colon could be one of the free-agent steals of the year -- or he could be an injury-plagued bust. With Colon, 30, it's all about staying healthy. The Steelers thought enough of him two years ago to sign him for $29 million over five years -- and everybody knows the Steelers don't spend foolishly. Since then, he has missed 20 games. When healthy last season, playing guard for the first time, Colon probably was the Steelers' best run blocker. On the downside, he committed 12 penalties. With his experience and run-blocking ability, Colon could be an asset to a line in transition. The Jets' fingers are crossed.

Camp preview: Tight end

July, 18, 2013
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Breaking down the Jets, position by position, as we head to training camp:

Position: Tight end

Projected starter: Jeff Cumberland.

Projected reserves: Kellen Winslow, Konrad Reuland.

New faces: Winslow.

The departed: Dustin Keller.

Player to watch: Winslow, who earned a non-guaranteed contract after a minicamp audition, says his goal is to catch 100 passes. Maybe he should start with 100 snaps. Winslow will be fascinating to watch in camp because of what he used to be, but don't expect him to be the Jets' tight-end savior. He turns 30 in a couple of weeks and has bad knees, the result of multiple surgeries. He was in such pain last season that he lasted only one game (four snaps) with the Patriots. He says he feels fine, but camp will be a battle. His reps will be monitored and he'll need plenty of rest, which will hurt his ability to develop chemistry with the quarterbacks. This could be an amazing comeback story, but it's a long shot.


Potential strength: Cumberland has a chance to establish himself as a legitimate starting tight end in the league. Because of injuries to Keller, he played a lot last season (592 snaps), displaying an ability to make plays in the deep seams. Cumberland has the raw talent to become a solid pass-catching tight end, but his overall game needs more consistency, especially the mental aspect. It's a contract year for Cumberland, so there will be plenty of motivation.

Potential weakness: The entire position could be deemed a weakness on the team. This is one of the least accomplished tight-end groups in the league; the players not named Winslow have a combined total of only 45 career receptions. We don't mean to pile on, but there also isn't a true blocking tight end in the group. The Jets might regret passing on former Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert with the 13th pick.

Wild card: Hayden Smith, the former English rugby star, was one of the most improved players on the team in minicamp. He looks the part (6-foot-6, 255 pounds) and flashes unusual athleticism, but he's way behind in terms of actual game experience. Remember, he didn't start playing organized football until last year. He needs a lot of reps on the practice field and in preseason games. At that point, the Jets will have a better idea if Smith has what it takes.

Camp preview: Wide receiver

July, 17, 2013
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Breaking down the Jets, position by position, as we head to training camp:

Position: Wide receiver

Projected starters: Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill.

Projected reserves: Jeremy Kerley, Clyde Gates, Ben Obomanu.

[+] EnlargeStephen Hill
Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY SportsStephen Hill caught 21 passes as a rookie. The Jets need a significant improvement this season.
New faces: Obomanu.

The departed: Braylon Edwards, Chaz Schilens.

Player to watch: Hill -- a no-brainer. The Jets are depending heavily on his ability to rebound from a disappointing rookie year. The physical talent is there, but aside from Week 1 against the Bills, Hill never played like a first-round talent. (He was drafted in the second round, but received a first-round grade on the Jets' draft board.)

Hill must improve in all areas -- beating press coverage, sharpening his route running and, you know, catching the ball. He also has to do a better job with the ball in his hands, as he gained only 38 yards after catch on 21 receptions, per ESPN Stats & Information. In addition, his surgically repaired knee bears watching. He said last week that his reps will be monitored in camp.

Potential strength: Well, they're young. That can be a positive, right? Except for Holmes, every receiver is an ascending talent -- in theory, anyway. The question is, how much untapped potential are we talking about? Kerley, a good slot receiver with deceptive, big-play ability (14.8 yards per catch), is entering the prime of his career in Year 3. Beyond Kerley, there are question marks. Hill and Gates are young and fast, but it's time turn those assets into production.

Potential weakness: The depth is a major concern, especially with Holmes coming off foot surgery. Consider: Holmes has 358 career receptions; the rest of the unit has a combined 212, including 87 from Obomanu, a Seahawks castoff plucked off the scrap heap in May. This is their thinnest receiving corps since 2009, when they opened with Chansi Stuckey as a starter. (They traded for Edwards a month into the season.) GM John Idzik finds himself in a similar situation: He must acquire a proven talent. Even if this current cast stays healthy -- unlikely, considering its penchant for hamstring injuries -- it won't be good enough.

Wild card: Holmes and his surgically repaired foot. He's expected to begin camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list. The big question is, will he be ready by Week 1? That's the goal, but he's recovering from a Grade 4 (the most severe) LisFranc injury. There are no guarantees. You can bet Holmes won't take any unnecessary risks because he knows he probably will be a cap casualty after the season, and he doesn't want to hit free agency with a bad wheel. Without Holmes, a borderline No. 1 receiver when healthy, the Jets won't scare anyone with their perimeter passing attack.

Camp preview: Running back

July, 16, 2013
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Breaking down the Jets, position by position, as we head to training camp:

Position: Running back.

Projected starters: Chris Ivory, Lex Hilliard.

[+] EnlargeChris Ivory
AP Photo/Bill KostrounChris Ivory is gearing up for his first season with the Jets after three years with the Saints.
Projected reserves: Mike Goodson, Bilal Powell, Joe McKnight.

New faces: Ivory, Goodson, Tommy Bohanon.

The departed: Shonn Greene.

Player to watch: Ivory, acquired in a draft-day trade with the Saints, is one of the keys to the Jets' season. With Greene gone, they need Ivory to become a 15-carries-a-game back. They see him as a poor man's Marshawn Lynch, a big, bruising runner with the ability to wear down a defense. Ivory has flashed big-time potential in small sample sizes. In 2012, his YAC (yards after contact) was an impressive 4.7 per attempt, according to Pro Football Focus. He had only 40 attempts, yet he still caused 12 missed tackles, nearly equaling Greene's total (15) in 276 attempts, per PFF. The concern with Ivory is that he's never done it for a full season, and that's nothing to take lightly at the running-back position.

Potential strength: Position coach Anthony Lynn has plenty of bodies in his stable of runners. With Ivory, Goodson, Powell and McKnight, the Jets have four experienced backs, a situation that lends itself to a committee approach. John Griffin and rookie FB Bohanon (seventh round) also are battling for roster spots. The question is, do they have any star power? This will be the first time since 1994 they enter a season without a 1,000-yard rusher on the roster. Take a moment to think about that.

Potential weakness: The offense will be predictable when Ivory is on the field. The West Coast system relies on players who can catch the ball out of the backfield, and Ivory (three career receptions) is no Marshall Faulk, that's for sure. That will handcuff coordinator Marty Mornhinweg to a certain degree. Goodson isn't as one-dimensional as Ivory, but he has the skill set of a third-down back. It'll be up to Mornhinweg and Lynn to mix and match the personnel, finding the best roles for the players while keeping defenses off balance.

Wild card: For a couple of reasons, it's Goodson. First of all, will his legal issues keep him off the field? He's still facing drug and weapon charges stemming from a May arrest. If he's available and focused (and not fumbling), Goodson could be an asset to the offense because of his speed and explosiveness. He can take a swing pass and bolt 64 yards for a touchdown, which he did last season for the Raiders. The Jets are desperate for that kind of dimension on offense. The man has skills; the question is whether he can keep his head in the game.

Camp Preview: Quarterbacks

July, 15, 2013
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Jets QBsAP Photo/Bill KostrounGeno Smith is right behind Mark Sanchez for this year's starting quarterback job.
Breaking down the Jets, position by position, as we head to training camp:

Position: Quarterback

Projected starter: Mark Sanchez

Projected reserves: Geno Smith, Greg McElroy

New faces: Smith

The departed: Tim Tebow

Player to Watch: The most scrutinized player in camp will be Smith, the former West Virginia star who slid into the second round. It'll be Smith versus Sanchez in the Jets' first true quarterback competition since Sanchez versus Kellen Clemens in 2009 -- and that was rigged in Sanchez's favor. This time, the politics will work against Sanchez. It's Smith's job to win. The organization wants a fresh face at quarterback, but Smith has a lot to prove after a lackluster performance in the OTAs and minicamp. He has the arm and the athleticism to electrify the offense, but can he lead? Can he grasp the offense? Can he handle adversity? Chances are, he won't be able to answer them all by opening day. Bet the rent on Sanchez starting Week 1.

Potential Strength: The best hope for a solid season at quarterback -- maybe the only hope -- is Marty Mornhinweg and his West Coast system. He's an experienced playcaller with a proven, quarterback-friendly system, a departure from Tony Sparano and his paint-by-numbers offense. Mornhinweg and quarterbacks coach David Lee, a stickler for fundamentals, will bring a fresh approach.

Potential Weakness: Ball security. Sanchez, who drives coaches crazy with his penchant for holding the ball with only one hand, fumbled 14 times last season (he lost eight). He also had 18 interceptions. Smith has small hands and fumbled 32 times in his college career. The Jets aren't good enough to overcome reckless play at the quarterback position.

Wild card: The coaches are toying with the idea of turning Smith into what Tebow was supposed to be last season -- a change-of-pace quarterback (assuming he doesn't win the starting job). Smith would have a package of plays, mainly read-option runs that could exploit his speed. The upside: It would give him some game experience, albeit in a gadget role, and add a wrinkle to the offense. The downside: He wasn't very productive when West Virginia called designed runs, which wasn't often. Smith, who considers himself a pocket passer, gives the impression he wouldn't be thrilled in that role.

Camp preview: Wide receiver

July, 25, 2012
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Breaking down the Jets, position by position, as we head to training camp:

Position: Wide receiver

Projected starters: Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill.

Projected reserves: Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schilens, Patrick Turner.

New faces: Hill, Schilens.

Going, going, gone: Plaxico Burress, Logan Payne.

Player to watch: Holmes, the noted journalism lecturer, will be under a microscope at all times. He was stamped the villain of last season and he didn't help his image with recent comments in the media. This could be another frustrating year for Holmes. The Jets will make a concerted effort to get him the ball more than last season (targeted only 99 times, 30th in the league for wideouts), but he'll see a lot of double coverage because he's the only proven threat on the perimeter. How he handles that will be paramount to the chemistry in the locker room. Holmes is a clutch player, but they need him to be a four-quarter presence. He has gone 25 straight games without a 100-yard receiving performance.

Potential strength: They're young and fast -- or, shall we say, faster than last year. The Jets, in antique-collecting mode, went into last season with Burress and Derrick Mason as their No. 2 and No. 3 receivers, respectively. Neither player could get open. Hill and Schilens bring real speed to the position, which should result in more big plays. Remarkably, the Jets had only one reception longer than 41 yards last season.

Potential weakness: This is a relatively inexperienced group, an issue that will be exacerbated by the fact that it's learning a new offense. Take Holmes out of the mix, and you're talking about a receiving corps that has only 111 combined receptions. Schilens, one of the pleasant surprises in minicamp, is the most experienced player not named Holmes. If he can stay healthy, he could play his way into a significant role.

Wild card: Hill. The Jets traded up for him in the second round because they fell in love with his size (6-foot-4) and sub-4.4 speed, but he needs lots of seasoning. It's rare for a rookie receiver to make an immediate impact. In the last three drafts, only one of the 15 players chosen in the top 50 reached the 1,000-yard mark as a rookie (the Bengals' A.J. Green) and only four caught at least 50 passes. It's unrealistic to expect monster numbers from Hill, who has no experience in a pro-style offense, but if he can make opponents fear his speed, it will stretch the field and make life easier for Holmes & Co.

Camp preview: Tight end

July, 24, 2012
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Breaking down the Jets, position by position, as we head to training camp:

Position: Tight end

Projected starter: Dustin Keller.

Projected reserves: Jeff Cumberland, Josh Baker.

New faces: Hayden Smith.

Going, going, gone: Matthew Mulligan.

Player to watch: This is a big year for Keller on a couple of levels. Without a proven wide receiver opposite Santonio Holmes, he'll be the No. 2 option in the passing attack. It's also a contract year for Keller, who would like to sign a long-term extension but has received a cool response from the organization. The message is clear: Play out your final year and maybe we'll talk. Keller has steadily improved each year and he could be poised for big numbers. Holmes figures to draw the double coverage, which should create matchup advantages for Keller.

Potential strength: This is an athletic group, with Keller, Cumberland and Baker all capable of making plays in the passing game. Considering the lack of experience at receiver, new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano could lean on the tight ends early in the season to generate a chunk of the passing game, as all three tight ends are capable of lining up anywhere in the formation. You'll see Baker, an H-Back, in the backfield on occasion. A creative mind could do some nice things with this group.

Potential weakness: Blocking, blocking and blocking. It's hard to operate a smashmouth running attack when you don't have a true blocking tight end. Yeah, Mulligan was a penalty machine, but at least he had the ability to seal an edge. Keller has improved as an in-line blocker, but it's not his forte. Cumberland is a former wide receiver and Baker is only 244 pounds. Smith, the former rugby star, has the size and tenacity, but he's more raw than sushi. The Jets are on the look-out for a blocking tight end, an essential part on Sparano's system.

Wild card: Cumberland made the team out of camp last year and was poised to be a contributor, but he blew out his Achilles' tendon in Week 3. He looked fine in the recent minicamp, an encouraging sign. Cumberland bulked up to 260 pounds, which should help his blocking. He's an interesting player because the raw talent is there.

Camp preview: Offensive line

July, 23, 2012
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Breaking down the Jets, position by position, as we head to training camp:

Position: Offensive line

Projected starters: D'Brickashaw Ferguson (LT), Matt Slauson (LG), Nick Mangold (C), Brandon Moore (RG), Jeff Otah (RT).

Projected reserves: Wayne Hunter (OT), Vladimir Ducasse (G), Caleb Schlauderaff (G/C), Austin Howard (T), Robert T. Griffin (G).

New faces: Otah, Griffin, Heyer.

Going, going, gone: Robert Turner (C/G).

Player to watch: Clearly, the Jets lack confidence in Hunter, trading for Otah on the eve of camp. It will be an open competition at right tackle. If healthy, Otah is the better player. The Jets can't afford a repeat of last season, when Hunter allowed 8.5 sacks and committed 11 penalties. The offense can't function with that kind of inefficiency. New coordinator Tony Sparano is a former O-Line coach, so he's all about protecting the quarterback. He'll max-protect, giving Hunter/Otah as much help as possible. Of course, the scheme helps only so much; last season, it couldn't prevent Dolphins RT Marc Colombo from being a human turnstile.

Potential strength: This is a proud, seasoned group of starters -- and this is a pride season for the O-line. Excluding quarterback, no unit on the team absorbed more criticism last season than the line, which for years ranked among the best in the league. The pass protection slipped (one sack per 14.7 dropbacks, down from 19.8) and the running game sputtered (3.8 yards per carry, down from 4.4). Nevertheless, all five starters return, determined to prove last year was an aberration. In other words, the big fellas have a serious chip on their shoulders.

Potential weakness: Can the line turn back the clock to 2009-10 and play Ground-and-Pound football? Therein lies one of the keys to the season. The starting five wasn't able to control the point of attack last season the way it did in previous years. It's hard to impose your will on an opponent when your strong-side tackle (Hunter) isn't an elite run blocker. In 21 starts with Hunter at right tackle, dating to late in the 2010 season and including the postseason, the Jets have hit the 130-yard mark only four times. The 340-pound Otah will help because he's a road grader when healthy. If the Jets can't run, it'll be a long year.

Wild card: This category should be re-named, "Waiting on Vlad." The Jets have been waiting for two years for Ducasse to resemble the player they envisioned when they picked him in the second round of the 2010 draft. He has bounced back and forth between left guard and right tackle, trying to find a niche. It looks like he'll be at guard in camp, backing up Slauson. If the light goes on, Ducasse could give Slauson (coming off major shoulder surgery) a run for the starting job. But does anyone really believe that will happen?

Camp preview: Special teams

July, 22, 2012
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Breaking down the Jets, position by position, as we head to training camp:

Position: Special teams

Projected starters: PK Nick Folk, P T.J. Conley, KR Joe McKnight, PR Jeremy Kerley, LS Tanner Purdum.

New faces: PK Josh Brown.

Going, going, gone: PR Jim Leonhard.

Player to watch: Tim Tebow. Yep, that guy. He worked in minicamp as the personal protector on the punt team, and the Jets say they have no qualms about using him there during the season. Yes, it's a wrinkle that will force opponents to be on their toes for a gadget play, but it's also risky, asking your No. 2 quarterback to run downfield and make tackles. Coordinator Mike Westhoff started cooking up ways to utilize Tebow as soon as the trade was finalized.

Potential strength: The Jets are a team of many happy returns. McKnight is dynamite as a kickoff returner (a league-high 31.6 average last season) and Kerley is emerging is a very good punt returner (ninth with a 10.9 average). They can change field position in a heartbeat, and that will be important early in the season. The offense will experience growing pains in the new system, and a short field will be its best friend.

Potential weakness: The punting game has to get better. Conley finished 30th and 18th in gross and net average, respectively. The only competition on the roster is Travis Baltz, but that could change at any time. If Conley gets off to a slow start in camp, the Jets will be on the look-out for possible replacements.

Wild card: Brown, who was signed after the draft to compete with Folk. Brown isn't a wannabe or a has-been; he's a proven kicker in this league, still capable of getting the job done. He got cut by the Rams because he was in the final year of a five-year, $14.2 million contract, and they wanted to get younger and cheaper. Brown vs. Folk is a legitimate competition that probably won't be decided until the third pre-season game. Folk responded favorably last summer when he was challenged by the then-unproven Nick Novak, but there will be more pressure this time because of Brown's stature.

Camp preview: Running back

July, 20, 2012
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Breaking down the Jets, position by position, as we head to training camp:

Position: Running back

Projected starters: Shonn Greene (RB), John Conner (FB).

Projected reserves: Joe McKnight, Bilal Powell, Terrance Ganaway, John Griffin.

New faces: Ganaway, Griffin.

AP Photo/Paul SpinelliShonn Greene
Going, going, gone: LaDainian Tomlinson

Player to watch: The running game will live or die with Greene, who enters his second season as the featured back. For the first time in his career, he's the most accomplished runner on the team. Thomas Jones is long gone, so is Tomlinson. That means pressure. Greene, a notoriously slow starter, has to bring his A-game early. He averaged 74 yards and 4.4 per carry over the final 12 games last season, but he needs that kind of production over the full season. Greene is a solid runner when the holes are there, but he's a one-speed back who doesn't make enough yards on his own. This is a contract year, so he'll be plenty motivated.

Potential strength: The Jets selected four backs in the last three drafts, so there should be enough depth -- in theory, anyway. Throw in Griffin, a first-year free agent who impressed in the spring, and they should have a nice stable of runners.

Potential weakness: Where's the home run ability? A year ago, Greene's longest run was 31 yards, and that didn't happen until the 14th game. It was the Jets' longest run of the season. Ground & Pound is fine, but you need a back that can get into the secondary, a back that can tie a defense into knots. The Jets don't have that guy, unless McKnight finally emerges.

Wild card: Some players on the team believe McKnight will be the breakout player on offense. He'll get the opportunity, that's for sure. He'll back up Greene and replace Tomlinson as the third-down back, the first time in his young career that he'll have a legitimate role on offense. If McKnight matures, learns to be a disciplined runner and develops as a pass catcher, he can be a good part-time back. The athleticism is there; he demonstrates the explosiveness on kickoffs.

Camp preview: Quarterback

July, 19, 2012
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Breaking down the Jets, position by position, as they head into training camp:

Position: Quarterback

Projected starter: Mark Sanchez

Projected reserves: Tim Tebow, Greg McElroy

New faces: Tebow

Going, going, gone: Mark Brunell

Player to watch: Tebow will be one of the most closely watched players in the NFL. Why? Because he's Tim Tebow. Another reason is because of his role: What is he? The Jets say he's the No. 2 quarterback and will be used in the Wildcat package. They haven't divulged any specifics, but it'll probably be closer to the read-option offense he ran in Denver than a true Wildcat, which is a direct snap to a running back. Team insiders say the plan is to use Tebow in the red zone, where they can replace Sanchez with another player/blocker to bolster the running game.

Potential strength: Depth. For a change, the Jets have a legitimate backup instead of an delicate antique. (No offense, Brunell.) Sanchez and Tebow are proven winners with playoff victories on their resumes. That could be a big intangible -- assuming a quarterback controversy doesn't ruin everything.

Potential weakness: The obvious concern is the question of whether Sanchez and Tebow can coexist without dividing the locker room, but we're going to get technical here and raise the issue of ball security. Sanchez had 18 interceptions and 10 fumbles (eight lost) last season, Tebow six interceptions and 13 fumbles (six lost) -- way too many loose balls. Sanchez can reduce the number by cleaning up his mechanics while in the pocket.

Wild card: Sanchez's psyche. Comedian Rob Riggle nailed it during the ESPYS telecast when, referring to Tebow and his popularity, he looked at Sanchez in the audience and cracked, "Good luck with that all season." Sanchez laughed. Will he still be laughing in a few months? His ability to block out the Tebow distraction will go a long way toward determining how the season plays out for all parties. For the most part, Sanchez has been a mentally tough player, but his psyche was shattered by the end of last season. He needs to take a playoff mentality every week, because he's at his best in the big games.

We want to hear your thoughts on the Sanchez-Tebow drama.

Ed Mulholland/US PresswireWill Mark Sanchez be able to handle Tebow Time in New York?

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