Friday, June 29, 2012
Take 5: Looking for football's Jeremy Lin
By Rich Cimini
This is our seventh "Take Five" list. From now until training camp, we'll have periodic lists -- some serious, some not-so-serious. In this one, we list the top five candidates that could pull a Jeremy Lin in 2012 -- an out-of-nowhere player who jumps into the limelight and becomes a fan sensation.
1. TE Hayden Smith: The former international rugby star hasn't played a lick of organized football in his life -- he was born and raised in Australia -- but he has the size and physical tools to make a go of it. He struggled in minicamp, but he's upbeat and works hard. He'll be hard-pressed to make the 53, but if he does ... hey, you never know.
2. RB Terrance Ganaway: He'll enter camp as the fourth-string running back, but it's not like he has Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson in front of him. The sixth-round pick rushed for nearly 1,600 yards last season at Baylor, so he obviously has some talent. At 240 pounds, he could start out as a short-yardage back and go from there.
3. QB Greg McElroy: It'll be hard to leap Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow on the depth chart, but, hey, stuff happens in the NFL. McElroy has no game experience, but there's something about him that grows on you. He's a poor man's Chad Pennington -- smart, tough and instinctive.
4. OLB Ricky Sapp: The hardcore fans know that Sapp was a prolific pass rusher in college (15 sacks in '09 at Clemson) and was projected as a top-50 pick. He slipped to the Eagles in the fifth round in '10, suffered a knee injury and ... well, here he is. Rex Ryan mentions Sapp whenever he discusses his outside linebackers, always a good sign. The Jets aren't overflowing with outside rushers, so he'll get a shot.
5. TE Josh Baker: He's had quite a football journey. He was thrown out of Delaware for off-the-field transgressions, ended up at a community college while moonlighting at an office-supply store and resurfaced at Northwest Missouri, where he caught the Jets' attention. He signed as an UDFA and caught three passes last season, including a touchdown. Baker, who can play fullback or tight end, will compete for playing time. He has the back story that makes him easy to root for.