- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Looking at some of the positives and negatives from the Jets' 17-12 loss to the Panthers:
Austin Howard. You can bet the Jets are feeling better about their right-tackle situation. Howard, who started ahead of the demoted Wayne Hunter, probably nailed down the job with a terrific outing. He didn't allow any sacks, and spent a good part of the night blocking Panthers DE Charles Johnson, one of the highest-paid pass rushers in the league. It's Howard's job to lose, and he didn't do anything to lose it.
Kenrick Ellis. The second-year nose tackle enjoyed his best game as a pro, recording four tackles, a half-sack, a tackle-for-loss and a batted pass. Ellis was a big question mark at the start of camp, coming off a washout rookie season, but he has improved with more playing time. And he has received plenty this preseason, subbing for the injured Sione Po'uha. Ellis won't unseat Po'uha, but he at least gives them a viable option in the middle.
LaRon Landry. Another game, another interception. So far, Landry looks like a terrific free-agent addition. He makes things happen when he's around the ballcarrier, delivering blow-up tackles. He's also an excellent blitzer. He's never been known as an interception guy, but he's been in the right place at the right time. As always with Landry, the key is his health. If his troublesome Achilles' tendon holds up, the Jets will have a dynamic safety.
Stephen Hill. The Jets have to be worried. The rookie wide receiver dropped two passes -- a high, but catchable throw in the end zone and a gimme catch that bounced off his hands and resulted in an interception. Remember, he also had a critical drop in the opener. They expect big things out of Hill -- he's projected to start -- but how can they trust him in a big spot?
Matt Slauson. He execised poor judgment, getting flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. He should've minded his own business, but he stepped between teammate Patrick Turner and S Haruki Nakamura and knocked Nakamura to the ground, drawing the flag. It ruined a scoring opportunity. Said Slauson: "It cost us a touchdown and most definitely cost us the game." He also had a killer holding call last week against the Giants.
Tim Tebow. He provided the only exciting moment of the game, a 20-yard scramble in the fourth quarter, but his passing was for the birds. He completed only four of 14 for 55 yards, including an ugly interception into triple coverage. He should've had two interceptions, telegraphing a pass at the Carolina 12-yard line -- but a potential pick-six was dropped by LB David Nixon. He almost rallied the Jets in the final minute, but there was no Tebow magic.