After a light practice on August 17, Jets head coach Robert Saleh revealed the gameplan for his quarterbacks while chatting with reporters. “Very similar to last week,” Saleh began, noting that a “couple more defensive guys will play” but it’ll be the “same plan for the offense.”
Looking back to Carolina, that means Zach Wilson will start and play the first half while third-string QB Tim Boyle will take over during the second half. Saleh also confirmed that Aaron Rodgers would not play, although when asked if the veteran would sit out all of preseason, the Jets HC replied that he has not decided on that yet.
Jets’ Mekhi Becton Could Play Some Right Tackle vs. Buccaneers
Outside of the quarterback position, the other main storyline to watch is Mekhi Becton and the offensive line — and more specifically, offensive tackle. Duane Brown is expected to start at left tackle the moment he’s ready to return, and Saleh all but guaranteed he’d be back for Week 1.
That means if Becton wants to start, he’ll have to give right tackle another shot. The former first-round talent expressed that he was open to playing the right side this year on August 1, voicing: “I just want to be on the field.”
Despite that comment, Becton had only been getting left tackle snaps at the start of training camp and preseason. This week, that changed as Saleh and the training staff felt his knee was ready for RT — a position that Becton himself claimed puts more pressure on his right knee as it’s recovering.
“We’re going to talk about that right now,” Saleh told reporters when asked if Becton would play right tackle during an actual preseason game. “We’re hoping to play him [at RT] this weekend but we’re going to have a talk before we make any rash decisions.”
“He wants to play,” Saleh made clear. “He wants to play [and] he’s going for it. It’s the most confident I’ve felt in a while with [Becton] — selfishly speaking — and I look into the guy’s eyes and he’s going for it. I’m excited for this weekend, I’m hoping for a really productive weekend.”
Later, the Jets HC clarified “going for it” as wanting to be on the field and the amount of “strain and fight” Becton is willing to give. “I just feel a different person,” Saleh added.
Jets Players to Watch vs. Buccaneers
The Jets have a few training camp battles to watch in this one as time is running out for players who find themselves on the roster bubble.
The first is at running back. With Dalvin Cook entering the fold, the battle is on between Michael Carter, Zonovan Knight, rookie Israel Abanikanda and UDFA Travis Dye — as well as fullback Nick Bawden. Most of these ball-carriers were successful against the Panthers, so the Bucs game will serve as another important test.
There’s another battle at tight end, as Kenny Yeboah, Zack Kuntz and E.J. Jenkins are duking it out for one spot — if a fourth TE role is even available. All three had touchdowns last week, and the Jets find themselves with a stacked tight end room heading toward Week 1.
On the defensive side, linebacker and safety are the depth areas to watch, as well as cornerback. The first-team defense has a lot of returnees this season, but the backup jobs are up for grabs. Some names to watch are Trey Dean (S), Jimmy Moreland (CB), Zaire Barnes (LB), Nick Vigil (LB), Ashtyn Davis (S), and both Bryce Hall (CB) and Chazz Surratt (LB) if they’re healthy.
Finally, you can’t forget the offensive line. We talked about Becton above but OTs Billy Turner and Max Mitchell will be under the microscope too, as will rookie center Joe Tippmann and the rest of the blocking unit.