- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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Examining the New York Jets' roster:
Smith and Vick are locked in at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Simms didn't play particularly well in the preseason finale, but he made enough progress over the summer to win a spot. His position coach, David Lee, thinks the world of Simms. The Jets could try to get cute, attemping to slip him through waivers for the practice squad, but why take a chance with a quarterback who might develop into a solid No. 2 down the road? Rookie Tajh Boyd, a sixth-round pick, showed flashes in the finale, but it was too little, too late.
RUNNING BACKS (5)
It's a tough call between Richardson and Alex Green; there's sentiment for both in the organization. In the end, it will be Richardson, a better receiver than Green, who fumbled twice Thursday night. It's an insurance position, anyway, as the Jets figure to dress only four running backs per week.
WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
The big story on the final cutdown is Stephen Hill, a former second-round pick who played his way from a near lock at the start of camp to squarely on the bubble. He didn't get many opportunities Thursday night, but he failed to seize what opportunities he did get -- i.e. yet another dropped pass. The Jets would love to trade Hill, but it might be hard to find a taker. If he makes the team, it's because they're afraid he might actually realize his potential, and that would be embarrassing if it happens with another team. Salas isn't a lock, not after a so-so outing in the final game, but his above-average camp can't be dismissed. Clyde Gates is pushing because of his speed and kickoff-returning ablity. Hakim was one of the underdog stories in camp, winning a job because of his special-teams prowess.
TIGHT ENDS (3)
This is fairly straight forward, although a strong finish by Chris Pantale might cause them to give pause. Cumberland will need time to get up to speed after missing significant time with Achilles' tendon tightness, so Amar0 -- better of late -- might have to carry the day early in the season. It was a solid camp for Sudfeld, but the knock on him is that he fades when the lights go on. Is there a legit blocker in the house?
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)
Winters played in the final preseason game, which should tell you something. Chances are he'll hold off Aboushi at left guard, but he shouldn't get too comfortable. Aboushi will continue to be the swing right tackle/guard, pushing Winters. Freeman beat out Caleb Schlauderaff for one reserve spot. Ijalana probably will make it by default, because he's the only backup left tackle, but the Jets will be looking for an upgrade. Dozier is this year's version of Aboushi and Will Campbell, meaning it will be a "redshirt" season.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (5)
This is one of the top young defensive lines in the league, a tough group to crack. The coaches really like T.J. Barnes, a Jacksonville Jaguars castoff who worked hard to drop 20-plus pounds. Unfortunately, there's no room at the inn.
Edds is the surprise here, coming out of nowhere to win a job. He was a non-roster player in minicamp but earned a contract, displaying excellent coverage skills and ability on special teams. Troy Davis (quadriceps) and rookie IK Enemkpali (foot) were sabotaged by late injuries. Babin, signed on the eve of training camp, looks like he will be a nice pickup. Antwan Barnes, still not practicing, probably will start the season on the physically unable to perform list, meaning he must sit at least six weeks. Fifth-round pick Jeremiah George could be a rare draft pick that gets cut. Ditto for seventh-rounder Trevor Reilly, which won't make it so rare.
It's hard to imagine the suspended Dimitri Patterson on the opening-day roster. The question is, how and when do they dump him? Not only was he AWOL for 48 hours, but he called out Rex Ryan and John Idzik, basically accusing them of lying. This situation could get uglier before it gets resolved. If Idzik doesn't replace Patterson, it's because he's desperate for cornerbacks and doesn't want to admit he made a mistake by signing him in free agency. It would be a shock if they don't acquire a veteran, either in a trade or on waivers. We're listing Allen at cornerback, not safety, because ... well, they're hurting here. Lewis and Patrick make it by default -- unless something better comes along. Sixth-round pick Brandon Dixon is raw and needs time to develop.
Pryor has a chance to be special; he'll learn a lot, playing alongside Landry. The new addition here is Bush, who offers help on special teams -- a big point of emphasis after a couple of down years.
Quigley helped his cause with an improved performance in the final game, but one thing we know about the Jets: They like to change punters.