We have finally reached a game week for the New York Jets. This is historic, for the first time in over two years we have a preseason game to preview, watch, and recap.
Not only is this fun for the fans, but it’s even more important for all the players on the roster to have a platform to prove themselves.
There’s nothing like playing under the lights. As intense as training camp practices can get, you can’t simulate the live bullets of a preseason contest.
This is going to be a make-or-break moment for a ton of these players and more often than not they feature names you aren’t as familiar with.
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Time to Eat a Massive L on This One
The No. 1 not-so-obvious player to watch is former SEC superstar La’Mical Perine.
Perine was a fourth-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft and had a topsy turvy rookie season. The former Florida Gator toted the rock 64 times for 232 yards and two touchdowns. Perine averaged an underwhelming 3.6 yards per clip and was a complete non-factor in the receiving game.
Speaking of Gase when he was dumped and swapped out for Robert Saleh and a brand new offensive philosophy it didn’t spell good things for Perine. Most of the media, including myself, immediately cast the former Florida running back aside as a non-scheme fit and labeled him as a roster bubble candidate instantly.
After a few weeks of training camp, it has become abundantly clear that I was wrong.
Perine has been a star in camp and has really impressed not only fans, the media, but also the coaching staff.
The highlight of camp so far was when Perine absolutely trucked veteran safety, Lamarcus Joyner. Just when we thought we were going to get our first fight of training camp, both players got up jawed at each other, and hyped each other up about the play.
This culture seems to be slowly changing for the better and it’s fun to see.
Perine is certainly one to watch in the preseason opener vs the Giants. Will his positive play in camp translate to the game? It’s going to be a fun one to watch.
The Other Not so Obvious Things to Keep an Eye out For
On top of Perine, there are plenty of underneath-the-radar guys and storylines to keep an eye out for here in the preseason opener vs the Giants.
Elijah Campbell, defensive back
Preseason reps are going to be the difference makers for a lot of these positional battles. Not a lot of people have given Campbell a fighting chance, but he could surprise us all.
Blake Cashman, linebacker
The battle for the starting weakside linebacker role is getting intense! According to the unofficial depth chart, rookie Hamsah Nasirildeen has successfully made the transition from defensive back to linebacker and is the starter heading into this game vs the Giants.
Cashman is running second fiddle but has a chance to grab the steering wheel. He has impressed Saleh on special teams during camp but also has a level of versatility that could provide a unique weapon.
Health is the biggest question and if he can stay on the field he has a great chance to mix things up.
Dan Feeney, offensive lineman
This is a good news vs bad news kind of situation. Alijah Vera-Tucker has an injured pec and has missed a ton of time during camp and won’t play against the Giants on Saturday. The hope among the coaching staff is he’ll be ready for Green Bay Packers week.
He was a cult hero this offseason during hockey playoff games, but it’s time to show his chutzpah on the gridiron. Over the last three years, he has started 48 consecutive games on the interior for the Los Angeles Chargers. How he fares against the Giants’ defense could go a long way to making Jets fans feel better about their depth in the trenches.
The Jets have a huge kicking problem and this isn’t new to this team. Right now they have two guys battling it out, but the Week 1 starting kicker may not even be on the roster.
This is a huge prove it moment and we should all be talking about this battle more. Last year the special teams weren’t as big of a deal because the Jets often lost their games by a ton of points. If this team is going to be better and more competitive this year, then it is paramount to have a reliable kicking game to put points on the board.