Jets Youngster ‘Has the Edge’ on Longest-Tenured Vet: Report

Nathan Shepherd

Getty New York Jets defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd during the 2018 season.

It might be considered ironic if New York Jets’ 2021 sixth-round pick, Jonathan Marshall — a man born in Shepherd, Texas — became the same man who would eventually go on to end Nathan Shepherd’s tenure within the organization.

The veteran is coming up on year five with the Jets after re-signing to a one-year deal, and has been with the Green & White longer than any other player that is currently on the roster. The defensive tackle’s work ethic and leadership have allowed him to outlast a rookie contract and a regime change, but he may find it challenging to survive cutdown day in 2022.

ALL the latest Jets news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Jets newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Jets!

Marshall Helping Himself in Camp

The NYJ defensive line is absolutely stacked with both talent and depth. I know, you’ve heard that before and you’re not convinced — but this time it’s true.

Although defensive tackle is a bit weaker than defensive end, two-way players like John Franklin-Myers, Solomon Thomas and rookie Micheal Clemons could blur the lines between the two positions when deciding on the final 53.

That makes these roster slots very hard to come by, and The Athletic’s Zack Rosenblatt believes Marshall and Shepherd are fighting for one job — if either makes it to Week 1. He included the younger DT as a player that has “helped” himself in camp, explaining:

The Jets need depth on the interior of the defensive line — and it’s still possible they look for a veteran addition over the next few weeks — but Marshall has helped his case in camp. He’s likely battling Nathan Shepherd for a roster spot, and through seven practices Marshall has the edge. The 2021 sixth-round pick has made some plays as both a pass rusher and run stopper. [Robert] Saleh wants Marshall to develop into more than just a run stopper [though].

Rosenblatt then quoted Coach Saleh, who spoke of Marshall on August 3: “One thing with our system, we don’t really designate any of those guys ‘run stuffers.’ We want a bunch of three techniques that just fire off the ball creating knockback. His area of emphasis is to just continue to strain and grind through the double-team blocks and the backside double teams and all the different ops that he has to strain and create push and not get moved. It is something that he has improved on greatly over the last couple of days, but now he’s got to prove it.”

Follow the Heavy On Jets Facebook page, where you can weigh in on all the latest NYJ-related daily content, analysis, features and more!

Rankins Appears to Have Secured His Role

Initially, many pondered whether the Jets might cut veteran Sheldon Rankins as a cap casualty this spring. The former New Orleans Saints first-round selection did survive the opening couple of waves of free agency, however, and he appears to be making an impact at camp.

Unless the Jets shock the world and add a huge name at the position before Week 1, it now feels like a foregone conclusion that Rankins is staying for year two. Assuming he starts next to Quinnen Williams, the second line of Saleh’s rotation still needs to reveal itself.

Will that be “JFM” and Clemons on passing downs? Or Thomas and Marshall? — On a more typical defensive set.

One thing’s for sure, if this defensive line is going to work how it’s supposed to work, the Jets need bodies that are ready to play. That means no free roster spots.

DL coach Aaron Whitecotton said it best when talking about a depth D-lineman like Marshall or Clemons: “He’s not the third-string quarterback, this dude is playing.”

Follow @obermuller_nyj and @BoyGreen25 on Twitter for all the latest New York Jets breaking news, rumors, fresh takes and more!


Read More
Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x