The first New York Jets preseason game of the 2021 season is officially in the books.
There’s no real debate whether or not any of those players are going to make the roster, that much is obvious. What the preseason is really about is separating the good players from the great players. This is an opportunity for a bottom of the roster player to prove he belongs at the professional level.
Fortunately, several players answered that call on Saturday night vs the New York Giants, but one certainly stood out from the rest.
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A UDFA Pass Rusher Makes His Presence Felt
It was hard to miss the impact of this special undrafted free agent pass rusher. He notched a sack on the opening drive of the game and ended up leading the Jets in that category at the end of the contest. Bryce Huff out of Memphis is the… wait a second… oh that’s not the guy? It was someone else?
Yes, Huff was impressive and seriously put himself in the conversation as the starting EDGE rusher opposite of Lawson, but we were talking about a different undrafted free agent stud defender. I guess we have to clarify in the future because the Jets are dealing with what the kids call a “first world problem.”
Hamilcar Rashed Jr is the player that definitely put the Jets coaching staff on notice.
The talented pass rusher led the team in tackles (four), registered 1.5 sacks, two quarterback hits, and a tackle for loss.
It’s funny the Jets couldn’t buy a pass rusher over the last 15 years and now suddenly the drawers are overflowing with options.
When you evaluate his game the things that stand out are:
- Hustle plays: a relentless motor that doesn’t have an off switch.
- Special teams abilities: the more feathers that you can have in your cap, the greater your chances are of making a final 53 man NFL roster.
- Versatility: can line up all over the place but is likely best suited as a situational pass rusher in this 4-3 scheme.
It’s Going to Be Tough, but He Has a Chance
The Jets’ defensive line is absolutely positively stacked, so cracking this impressive depth chart won’t be easy. Yet, this pass rusher should look no further than his teammate Huff for inspiration.
In any given year it’s hard for undrafted free agents to make NFL rosters. Last year? It was nearly impossible to impress a coaching staff with no preseason, an abbreviated offseason, and a truncated training camp.
Despite all of those negative factors, Huff overcame all that to not only make the roster but develop into a key cog in the pass rush rotation. Luckily for Rashed, he will have ample opportunities to impress with preseason games and more training camp reps.
Rashed Jr clearly took advantage of his opportunities under the lights vs the Giants and that’ll open up even more doors for him in practice and in future games.
Roster cuts are rapidly approaching with teams set to trim their numbers from 90 to 85 on Tuesday, followed by an 85 to 80 cut the next Tuesday, and then finally one more mass exodus when NFL teams go from 80 to 53.
Before we get to that extreme, the former Oregon State product will have plenty of time to prove he belongs. Jets head coach Robert Saleh loves rotating in his defensive linemen to keep them fresh and the more options he has, the more creative he can get with his defensive attacking philosophies.