New York Jets: Josh Baker

Three things we learned on Day 21

August, 15, 2012
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Observations from Wednesday, the last public practice here:

1. Nose tackle could be an issue. Sione Po'uha claimed he's "100 percent" confident his ailing back won't hamper him during the season, but that might be wishful thinking. He's 33 years old and he plays the most physically demanding position on the field. The coaches could reduce Po'uha's playing time to save wear and tear, but here's the problem: His backup, Kenrick Ellis, isn't ready for a significant role. There is one silver lining: The nose tackle won't have to play a lot in the season opener. The Jets will be in nickel and dime all day because of the Bills' spread formations.

[+] EnlargeAustin Howard
Rich Barnes/US PresswireAustin Howard
2. Get ready, tight ends. Dustin Keller, Jeff Cumberland and Josh Baker made several catches in team drills, perhaps a harbinger of what the offense might look like early in the season. With all the injuries at wide receiver, coordinator Tony Sparano might have to incorporate more tight-end packages into his early game plans. All three have the ability to make plays in the passing game.

3. The sixth offensive lineman. Mark this down: RT Austin Howard will have a role on offense. He won't unseat RT Wayne Hunter, at least not soon, but he'll be involved in the "Jumbo" package as an extra blocker/tight end. That could do wonders for the running game, which didn't have a good "Jumbo" last season. Howard is fairly nimble for a 330-pound man, so he can be used in motion. Line coach Dave DeGuglielmo called Howard "a very rare talent" in terms of pure power at the point of attack.

Take 5: Looking for football's Jeremy Lin

June, 29, 2012
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.