Camp preview: Wide receiver

July, 25, 2012
7/25/12
6:00
AM ET
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.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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