Playmakers Headline Jets’ Top-5 Roster Battles to Watch vs. Giants

Mike White, Tevin Coleman

Getty Quarterback Mike White (#5) and running back Tevin Coleman (#23) could potentially be on the roster bubble this weekend.

It’s finally here — the third New York Jets preseason game of the summer.

After the Sunday contest on August 28, final roster cuts will occur sometime before August 30 at 4 p.m. EST, and then Week 1 is just around the corner beyond that. It goes without saying but the heart of football season is almost upon us.

As you daydream about a Week 1 victory over the Baltimore Ravens though, here are a few hotly-contested roster battles to keep your eye on against the New York Giants tomorrow.


Defensive Battles to Watch

Head-to-head at safety.

It’s probably safe to assume that the Jets view undrafted rookie Tony Adams as a great practice squad candidate, so the fourth and final safety role — assuming there is one — should come down to Ashtyn Davis and Will Parks.

The coaching staff loves 2021 draft pick, Jason Pinnock, as a long-term piece but Davis could be playing on life number nine against the Giants. The veteran, Parks, has outperformed the former 2020 third-rounder from the get-go and fans honestly may revolt if Davis makes this roster.

One more good effort from Parks could seal it, although general manager Joe Douglas might be holding out hope that Davis gives him a reason to keep him around.

Final Cornerback Job

The Jets also have an interesting decision to make at cornerback. D.J. Reed Jr., Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Bryce Hall and nickelback Michael Carter II appear to have cemented their places in this 2022 secondary.

After that, things get tricky. Most assume that 2021 rookie breakout Brandin Echols should make the team but he’s had a really quiet summer that has been bothered by nagging injuries throughout.

The opposition is made up of the versatile Javelin Guidry and special teams captain Justin Hardee. With how crowded the rest of the roster is in places like defensive line and safety, it’s hard to see a path where all three of these CBs make the final roster.

One of the three will likely go, and it could be Hardee if Echols and Guidry prove that they are both long-term pieces for this franchise.

War on the D-Line

These guys may all love each other in actuality but from my viewpoint, this has been an absolute war on the defensive line.

The more minor battle at D-tackle includes 2021 draft pick Jonathan Marshall, longest-tenured Jet Nathan Shepherd, and perennial preseason darling Tanzel Smart. By all accounts, Marshall has the lead after his standout performance against the Falcons but there is a world where Gang Green ditches all three in favor of an extra edge rusher.

Speaking of the defensive ends, the Jets have trimmed some fat in this area throughout the summer but four pass rushers still remain behind perceived locks: Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers, Jermaine Johnson II, Micheal Clemons and Jacob Martin.

Those bubble candidates are the banged-up Bryce Huff and Vinny Curry, former third-rounder Jabari Zuniga, and late-preseason riser Bradlee Anae. Most assume Huff will make the roster but will a seventh edge rusher join him? Head coach Robert Saleh told reporters that the Jets will keep the best 53 football players, regardless of position.


Offensive Battles to Watch

Unlikely Quarterback Face-off

There are definitely fewer roster competitions on the offensive side of the ball but a surprising one has emerged. I should note that most beat reporters have shrugged away red-hot incumbent Chris Streveler as a non-factor heading into the cutdown — a practice squad candidate at best.

Having said that, many fans will likely be cheering him on during the Sunday outing. Streveler has outplayed third-stringer Mike White all throughout training camp and some believe that White is still surviving based on his historic performance against the Cincinnati Bengals last Halloween.

It’s debatable whether this is an actual roster battle or not but one thing’s for sure, the Jets will have to keep three quarterbacks on the 53 if there’s any uncertainty about Zach Wilson’s Week 1 status.

Final Playmaker on the 53 (WR vs. TE vs. RB)

If there was ever a royal rumble on the Jets roster, this is it. There are a lot of different ways that the Jets can go with their final spot on the offensive side and the decision will likely involve special teams.

They can go with a sixth wide receiver. Jeff Smith is reportedly as safe as anyone so that means Denzel Mims, Calvin Jackson Jr., Irvin Charles and Tarik Black are the would-be contenders. Charles has shown some fight but profiles as more of a practice squad candidate, as does Black.

That leaves Mims and Jackson. One just requested a trade, the other has shown real promise as an NFL-caliber talent. Investing in Mims would be foolish knowing he’s ready to walk after his rookie contract expires.

The Jets could also ditch the sixth receiver altogether and keep a fourth pass-catching tight end like Lawrence Cager or Kenny Yeboah. The WR hybrid, Cager, is the clear leader if Douglas and Saleh go this route — he’s been flat-out dominant all summer.

The third choice would bring a fourth running back — and that’s not including a fullback or blocking tight end (Nick Bawden or Trevon Wesco). Breece Hall and Michael Carter are roster locks and Tevin Coleman appears to have the veteran role in the bag. That leaves three ball carriers and potentially, no active jobs to be had.

Zonovan “Bam” Knight is a clear practice squad candidate if he misses the initial 53, while La’Mical Perine and Ty Johnson may finally be cut loose this year. Out of all these offensive playmakers though, there honestly might only be one spot available. Let the royal rumble begin!

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