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5 NY Jets starters to watch closely in preseason finale

Carl Lawson, NY Jets
Carl Lawson, New York Jets, Getty Images

The New York Jets’ starters will undergo their dress rehearsal today

At 1 p.m. ET this afternoon, the New York Jets will send out the majority of their offensive and defensive starters to play a sizable bulk of reps in the preseason finale. Head coach Robert Saleh says the starters will play somewhere from one quarter to a quarter-and-a-half.

These are the five starters I’ll be watching the closest.

EDGE Carl Lawson (#58)

This will be Carl Lawson’s first appearance since last year’s Jets-Giants preseason clash, which took place 379 days ago. Lawson only played three snaps in that game.

Jets fans have been waiting a long time for a top-tier edge rusher, and they finally have one in Lawson. While he has made his talent known through his dominance in practice, Lawson has yet to get a chance to show what he can do in a real game. Today marks his first opportunity.

I’m looking forward to keeping an eye on Lawson this afternoon to see if he appears to still be in peak form from a physical standpoint. His production in this game isn’t a huge concern to me – less than one-half of pass-rush snaps is too little to glean anything from. I will simply be focusing on his get-off, explosiveness, and bend. Is he ready to roll or is there some rust to shake off?

DL John Franklin-Myers (#91)

John Franklin-Myers did not play in either of the first two preseason games.

Today, I am interested to see how the Jets deploy their most versatile defensive lineman. How often will Franklin-Myers play on the edge and how often will he play on the interior?

Over the first two games, we saw the Jets deploy some inside-outside rotation with Micheal Clemons, perhaps giving us a hint of what’s to come with JFM.

OT Duane Brown (#71)

Duane Brown is going to be a crucial player for the Jets this season. As a longtime star who happens to be 36 years old (going on 37 in a couple of days), there is a wide range of outcomes that Brown could provide for the Jets.

Most likely, Brown will be somewhere around a league-average starting left tackle. That’s the level he performed at in 2021. If he can do that, the Jets should be thrilled. Not a lot of teams lose their starting tackle for the year and still find a way to get middle-of-the-pack production out of the position.

However, considering his age, there is a realistic chance that Brown takes a steep decline this year.

But there is also some potential upside here. We have seen many veteran tackles in recent years who have proven they can provide high-level play deep into their thirties, even after undergoing a decline that suggested they were falling off.

Andrew Whitworth is a prime example. Like Brown, Whitworth was a perennial star who dropped to around a league-average level in his 14th NFL season. It seemed like Whitworth’s decline had begun. However, Whitworth bounced back in his 15th season, returning to his previous elite level. He then followed it up with another great year in his 16th and final season, culminating in a Super Bowl ring.

OT George Fant (#76)

George Fant is another offensive lineman who has a wide range of outcomes this year.

Fant broke out in 2021 with a strong year that was highlighted by his top-notch pass protection. However, Fant accomplished this at left tackle. Fant was initially pegged to reprise his blindside role in 2022, but Becton’s injury foiled those plans. Brown will take over for Becton while Fant will be forced back to the right side.

Fant has openly stated that he is more comfortable at left tackle. Will we see him decline this year due to the side change? Or will he maintain a similar level of performance?

Additionally, it will be interesting to see how the Jets’ entire offensive line gels in this game. This will be the unit’s first and only action of the preseason as a five-man group. They barely even got any practice reps together. Will it take some time for this quintet to get on the same page, or will the experienced group be able to quickly connect?

WR Corey Davis (#84)

Most Jets fans will fixate on Elijah Moore and Garrett Wilson – as they should! – but I am very interested to see what Corey Davis has in store.

This is a different version of Davis than we have seen in the past. Davis worked hard on his conditioning in the offseason and lost 10-to-15 pounds. He now weighs in at around 205 pounds.

Davis caught fire near the end of training camp, making big play after big play. Many of his best plays included impressive quickness and explosiveness in his routes, two things we did not see from him very often last season.

Aside from drops, beating man coverage was Davis’s biggest weakness in 2021. If his slimmed-down frame improves his movement skills, we could see Davis become a better route-runner in 2022.

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1 year ago

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1 year ago

It’s an exciting day and, I hope ends up up a day without any unhealthy Jets or Giants. I’m most excited to see Carl Lawson. He’s the biggest difference maker on defense.