The reaction from the New York Jets intrasquad scrimmage finishes up today with observations about the defense and special teams. With the offense still a question mark, the defense will be counted on to carry this football team. The special teams are in transition mode, with Ben Kotwica taking over for the legendary Mike Westhoff.
The Jets’ front seven has been dominating the offensive line in practices, but they allowed a couple of big runs to Powell and Spann on Saturday. They were able to get pressure on both Sanchez and Smith though, which is a good sign considering the Jets' inability to rush the passer over the past few seasons.
Damon Harrison was working as the first-team nose tackle over Kenrick Ellis. Both players have the size for the position, but Harrison is quicker and works with better pad level than Ellis. Despite their respective draft positions (Harrison was undrafted in 2012, Ellis a 2011 third-rounder), Harrison can definitely win this job with a strong preseason.
The rest of the front seven is pretty set and Dee Milliner was working on the outside with the first team at corner, leaving only the strong safety position opposite Dawan Landry open. Antonio Allen ran with the starters and showed off his tackling ability on Saturday, stopping Jets offensive players in their tracks on a few occasions. Former college cornerback Josh Bush may see the field in passing situations, but Allen looks like the frontrunner for early-down work.
Cornerback Royce Allen had a very bad blown coverage that allowed Vidal Hazelton to get behind him for an easy 70-yard touchdown and he may not be long for the roster. The top three cornerbacks on the Jets’ roster are set and while Ellis Lankster also allowed a long score, Eric Crocker had an interception and the other corners who worked with the second team did a solid job.
Neither kicker stood out in field goals, but Billy Cundiff hit a 51-yarder that would have been good from ten yards further out. He has a decided advantage in leg strength over incumbent Nick Folk and if he can be consistent in practice and preseason games, his ability to make longer kicks and boot kickoffs into the endzone could give him an edge. If Folk kicks well though, it may take a really strong showing from Cundiff to take the spot.
Punter Robert Malone has a significantly stronger leg than Ryan Quigley but takes a solid second longer to put the ball on his foot. If the Jets feel this could lead to blocked punts Quigley has a chance in the competition, as he was more efficient dropping the ball inside the 20-yard line. Jeremy Kerley and Zach Rogers fair caught all of the punts, making it tough to judge whether either punter was outkicking their coverage.
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