3 Jets that need to excel against Panthers in joint practices this week

Jets training camp observations
New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh speaks to reporters after a practice at the NFL football team’s training facility in Florham Park, N.J., Thursday, July 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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For the first time all training camp, the New York Jets will be hitting the practice field this week against a different team. 

New York travels to Spartanburg to participate in joint practices with the Panthers this week. It’ll be the first time the coaching staff can truly begin to make roster decisions and also will give the Jets their first glance at number one overall pick Bryce Young in NFL action. 

The Jets have certainly had a very positive training camp with plenty of impressive standouts throughout. They also still have players that need to show more than they have done to this point. 

Here are three players that need to excel in joint practices against the Panthers this week. 

Allen Lazard

Jets sign Allen Lazard in free agency
Allen Lazard joins Nathaniel Hackett in New York after signing free agent deal.Wikimedia Commons

Among the names that have been inconsistent to start camp for the Jets, Lazard has to be on the top of that list. After signing a four-year $44 million deal this offseason, the expectation was that New York would have a dependable second option behind Garrett Wilson in the passing game.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing this camp though for Lazard, even with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. Lazard has dropped quite a few passes during practices and hasn’t consistently used his 6’5″ frame to win both at the line of scrimmage and in jump balls. He’s had his moments, but overall it hasn’t been what many fans of the Jets were expecting to start. 

A strong series of practices against Carolina will go a long way to showing New York that he is the perfect compliment to Wilson. 

Billy Turner

Jets sign Billy Turner
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New York’s ideal swing tackle has been thrust into the starting lineup so far and it’s been a series of mixed results to this point. Turner started strong through the early portion of camp but has been repeatedly beat by the likes of Jermaine Johnson and Will McDonald over the last few practices. 

It hasn’t mattered if there were speed moves, or power moves, Turner has struggled as of late to show any sort of confidence in the depth of the tackle position should Duane Brown or Max Mitchell go down. How Turner looks against the Panthers this week will go a long way to deciding his future, but also the future of some other tackles on the roster. 

Mekhi Becton

Jets mailbag
New York Jets’ Mekhi Becton, left, talks with Connor McGovern during a practice at the NFL football team’s training facility in Florham Park, N.J., Thursday, July 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)AP Photos

This isn’t to say Becton has been bad. On the contrary, over the last two weeks there is an argument to be made that he’s been the best overall tackle on the Jets. He’s beginning to gain confidence and trust in his knee, while also starting to win against speed rushers – something that has been a thorn in his side since he came out of college. 

No, the problem with Becton isn’t that he’s performed poorly. The issue is that he hasn’t had a chance to show his worth with the starting offense for long stretches of time. His recovery from two knee surgeries means that he needs to trust his knee for long periods of time. During the Hall-of-Fame game last week, Becton only played seven snaps of offense while the Jets expected him to play at least a quarter. Turns out, the tackle had some discomfort in his knee before the game and decided to take it easy. 

In practices against Carolina, that cannot happen. Becton needs to show he’s capable of winning consistently while being available for each drill. If Becton is able to perform well in the joint work and in the game this weekend, I think there’s more of an argument to be made to not only keep the former first-round pick, but to give him starting reps. 

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