Training camp is just a few days away for the New York Jets – the advantage of being one of the teams in the Hall-of-Fame game this season.
All-Pro defensive tackle Quinnen Williams’ recent contract extension means there are few distractions that New York will have to worry about outside of the hoopla that surrounds HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” But even the Emmy-Award-Winning show isn’t enough to deter Gang Green from being more confident in this camp than in years past. A Hall-of-Fame quarterback is now in tow, and it leaves plenty of fans thinking more than just ending a decade-long playoff drought. But while training camp always brings added pressure to both coaches and players, Rodgers and Williams aren’t under a whole lot of pressure over the next month. Their standing is secure within the Jets organization.
The same can not be said for the five players below, who when practices begin this week, will be under the microscope the minute they walk into the team facility at 1 Jets Drive.
Here are five names to keep an eye on during camp.
Breece Hall is still recovering from his ACL injury. While he could inevitably hit the practice field during camp, the odds of him making a major impact is minimal before the season starts. That leaves the Jets with two choices: either upgrade the running back room with Dalvin Cook or let Michael Carter and the others make up for the major hole in the roster. For Carter, he’s received a lot of positive feedback on his play but he needs to show he can be an every-down back to push New York away from the available Pro Bowl runner. It’michs going to be a big month for the former fourth-rounder.
It’s put-up or shut-up time for Mekhi Becton. The former Louisville product has shown levels of dominance when he’s healthy, but that hasn’t happened in two years. Becton has been given a vote of confidence from his coaching staff, but how he responds to potentially being the right tackle will say a lot for the first-round pick from 2020. The Jets seem to want to have him play on the right side so long-time tackle Duane Brown isn’t uncomfortable, but that will ultimately be determined by who is healthier later in camp, and who performs well during the practices and games.
New York won’t simply just cut a first-round pick from last year because he’s starting his career off slow. While Johnson’s roster spot is safe, the number of snaps he plays will be something to look at over the next couple of weeks. The Florida St. product looked very good during OTAs and could be in line for a breakout season with the club. If he doesn’t though, it’ll add more pressure on a defensive line that prioritizes attacking the quarterback in waves. There’s a lot of competition for snaps at defensive end this year but Johnson is easily under the most pressure as the guy that needs to step up in 2023 for the Jets.
Arguably the biggest defender under the most pressure, Sherwood has an excellent opportunity to win the final starting linebacker job in camp. The former fifth-round pick has been a coach’s favorite because of the way he plays and his overall development. It’ll be fairly obvious though when they put on the pads if he is ready for the starting role. If he cannot take the reigns and play well, New York is probably going to be looking elsewhere for the weakside position.
Has a backup quarterback ever been under a bigger microscope than Zach Wilson will be during training camp this year? Even with Rodgers in tow, and increased improvements during OTAs, the former second-overall pick will be expected to show his improvements every day of practice. How he conducts himself both on and off the field will be scrutinized, and should Rodgers look to take a day or two off, Wilson will need to come in and start in a pinch. There’s arguably no player on the Jets’ offense under more pressure during camp than their backup quarterback.