Josh Johnson Headlines 5 Jets That May Threaten 53-Man Roster

Josh Johnson

Getty New York Jets quarterback Josh Johnson throws a pass during preseason on August 27, 2021.

August 27 was the final opportunity for different New York Jets bubble candidates to showcase their abilities in a last-ditch effort to make the 53-man roster.

Head coach Robert Saleh decided to pull several influential starters just before kick-off, which set the stage for many fringe players to see significant playing time against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Certain Jets made the most of this opportunity, others did not, but will it influence Tuesday’s cutdown? Or were most decisions already made? Here are the five players that made a case for why they deserve a spot on the 53.


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Honorable Mention: Kenny Yeboah

The rookie tight end was perhaps the most impressive offensive player on Friday night, but I’ll only list him as an honorable mention because we’ve already written a feature about his standout performance. If you missed it, here’s the link!


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Outliers in Areas of Need

5. Depth Offensive Linemen Receive High Marks

They may not have been facing Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham but the offensive line played well for most of the Eagles’ affair. Dan Feeney actually received the strongest pass protection grade from Pro Football Focus (83.8) in a bounce-back effort, but the top run-blocking score went to a player you may not know as well.

Journeyman guard Isaiah Williams earned a ridiculous 94.2 grade on the run, and undrafted rookie tackle Grant Hermanns wasn’t far behind with a 93.6. With all the injuries on the O-line, one of these unsung heroes may stick on Tuesday. Corey Levin, Jimmy Murray, George Fant and Morgan Moses also had really solid outings according to PFF.

4. CB Jason Pinnock

As we mentioned yesterday, the cornerback position was brutal versus Philly. Very few players came out as ‘winners’ but one that did was the rookie fifth-rounder, Pinnock. After an injury and a slip in the depth chart, the Pittsburgh product’s playing time became a mystery over the past few weeks of training camp.

He seemed to fit the defense perfectly, and he had also been progressing well over the summer with a couple of interceptions in practice. Against the Eagles, Pinnock continued to produce turnovers, ripping a fumble free from Travis Fulgham. The ball proceeded to hop out of the back of the end zone for a Jets touchback and a possession change in the red zone.

The rookie received nice run defense (73.4) and tackling (77.5) marks from PFF, but his coverage could still use some work with a 59.3. Either way, Pinnock did enough to secure a roster spot after Joe Douglas spent a draft pick on him in 2021. Michael Carter II and Javelin Guidry also impressed in the slot once again, with 76.1 and 67.9 coverage grades (respectively).


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Top 3 Winners From Eagles Bout Make Late Roster Push

3. RB Josh Adams

Now I know what you’re probably thinking, there’s no way Adams is making this roster, and you’re probably right. That didn’t stop the running back from leading the team in yards per carry with 5.2 per attempt behind a backup offensive line.

Adams finished with 12 rushes for 62 yards and three receptions for 17 yards. He also scored the two-point conversion that tied the game. There is actually one scenario where Adams may find himself on the roster for Week 1. If La’Mical Perine’s injury is more significant than it appears and the back is transferred to some sort of PUP list, the Jets could elect to bring Adams backs as the fourth running back after the cutdown. He should certainly make the practice squad.

2. WR Jeff Smith

Gang Green has two Smiths at wide receiver, but Jeff seems to get less attention than Vyncint. Both had nice nights on Friday, operating in a larger role than normal. Vyncint Smith had a couple of first-down grabs for 32 yards, while Jeff Smith resembled Tavon Austin in his prime.

The gadget receiver was taking reverse handoffs and catching screen passes all game long, finishing with 44 yards rushing, 16 yards receiving, and a 25-yard gainer on the ground. He’s an intriguing weapon for Mike LaFleur to consider, but the problem is how crowded the wide receiver room is.

Assuming no trades occur, there are five roster locks at the position. That leaves both Smiths and slot receiver/return specialist, Braxton Berrios, fighting for either one or two extra spots.

1. QB Josh Johnson

The veteran signal-caller had not received a single snap in preseason before the Eagles game, but you wouldn’t have realized it based on his performance. Johnson was smooth and efficient after receiving the start in place of Zach Wilson and the injured Mike White.

The quarterback finished with 73 yards passing on eight attempts, with the same amount of touchdowns as incompletions (one). His passer rating was 144.3, averaging 9.1 yards per throw. Here was his touchdown pass to Lawrence Cager, which displayed beautiful touch.

The backup quarterback job has been a hot topic all summer and Johnson was brought in to remedy the situation. Oddly, he seemed like a nonfactor to this point with White leading the competition, but Friday made me think twice about overlooking the vet. Johnson displayed twice as much poise as White or James Morgan, and if I had to choose between the three, he’s the guy I want holding Wilson’s clipboard.


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