The New York Jets will be in action in their first preseason game on Thursday night vs the Indianapolis Colts. With all of the talk this off-season focused primarily on the media driven QB competition, we instead take a look at the 12 wide receivers to watch in this Thursday’s home opener.
With Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley listed as the only virtual locks at the wide receiver position thus far, it leaves multiple openings available before the roster is cut down to 53 players. Decker and Kerley are not likely to play longer than the first quarter in this week’s game, supplying ample time for others to step up and make a prominent impression. David Nelson, Stephen Hill, Jacoby Ford, Jalen Saunders, Saalim Hakim, Michael Campbell, Shaq Evans, Greg Salas, and Quincy Enunwa will be vying for the remaining spots.
David Nelson has built up a rapport with Geno Smith going back to last season and also seems like the receiver the Jets are relying on to continue to grow with their young second year quarterback. With 36 receptions for 423 yards in only 12 games last season, Nelson proved to be a reliable target for Geno. At this point, Nelson seems to be the most viable option to line up opposite Eric Decker when the season begins.
Stephen Hill has reached a crucial junction in his NFL career. Drafted in the second round only two seasons ago, Hill has been quite the disappointment. Draft pundits did claim on draft day that Hill would end up being a long term project and predicting it would take a few years for him to blossom. Well, the time is now for Hill to ascertain a guaranteed roster spot, as many experts believe that with the talent the Jets have in the wide receiver room his time will soon run out.
Jacoby Ford was signed this offseason to add speed to a receiving group, as well as speed to the return game. Something the Jets have lacked since the departure of KR man Brad Smith. Ford’s best chance to make the team is through special teams, although he could also see significant playing time in the slot if Jeremy Kerley were to get injured at any point.
Jalen Saunders has come into camp with an attitude and a purpose. Many veterans have claimed that Saunders acts like he belongs, which in the long run will be a good thing for his confidence. At 5’9 and 165 pounds, Saunders lacks the physical tools of an elite receiver, but his speed and toughness will never be in question. He too could find his way on the roster via special teams.
Greg Salas has gotten rave reviews this off-season from the other players and from coaching staff, but will that be enough of a resume to make the roster? Clyde Gates has always been a training camp superstar, but it has never translated to field. Both players will need to shine in preseason to have any chance of making the team.
Shaq Evans suffered a shoulder injury that held him out of the annual Green and White scrimmage on Saturday night. Rex Ryan was quoted as saying the injury seemed to be “severe”. Much speculation has been made that the injury could be season ending.
Quincy Enunwa, Saalim Hakim, and Michael Campbell are all very interesting prospects to say the least. Each of them will have a great opportunity to make a team starved for talent. The Jets 6TH round pick Quincy Enunwa suffered a hip injury earlier in camp, so it will be interesting to see if he plays in this week’s game. Hakim and Campbell will have to have a major impact this preseason to have any shot of making the team.
With the preseason set to get underway, a position of absolute need in 2013 has turned into a position of depth in 2014. The only question left is, who makes the team?
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