Jets Newcomer Named as Unexpected Roster ‘Lock’

Harrison Phillips, Solomon Thomas

Getty New York Jets defensive lineman Solomon Thomas (right) looks good in green.

The New York Jets are approaching the initial round of roster cuts on Tuesday, August 16 — following their first preseason game on August 12.

This opening stage of the final roster determination drops each NFL team down to 85 players (from 90). Generally speaking, there are no major surprises during round one of cuts but there will certainly be quite a few later in the month.

This summer will come with more tough decisions for Gang Green than any year in recent memory, as areas of need in past seasons have become areas of depth — like edge rusher, wide receiver, cornerback or tight end. For once, there is no void of talent on this Jets roster and plenty of good players will be released onto waivers.

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Is Solomon Thomas in Line for a Larger Role?

For that reason, it came as an eye-opener when newcomer Solomon Thomas was named in the roster “locks” section of beat reporter Zack Rosenblatt’s 90-man breakdown on The Athletic. He explained his selection:

[Thomas is] a favorite of the coaching staff that should be a part of the rotation at defensive tackle. He had an interception in one practice off [Joe] Flacco.

The failed San Francisco 49ers’ first-round pick was probably the most unexpected player on this 38-man list of locks, not because he won’t make the roster, but because many thought of him as more of a rotational piece after his signing.

Most of the Jets in this section were can’t-miss starters, premium draft picks from recent years, and key veteran backups. To the naked eye, Thomas is none of those things and a similar acquisition like Jacob Martin was placed “on the bubble.”

Having said that, the Green & White’s first unofficial depth chart dropped just after this assertion from Rosenblatt and it made him look like a genius with some outstanding foresight.

Perhaps the biggest shocker of this initial look at the potential first and second-team rotation was Thomas’ placement as the starting defensive tackle next to Quinnen Williams. Earlier in the offseason, the only considerations for this job had been veteran Sheldon Rankins or 2021 sixth-rounder Jonathan Marshall — in a scenario where the youngster was way ahead of schedule.

No one really foresaw Thomas as the man who might win the role. Well, except for Rosenblatt and of course, head coach Robert Saleh.

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Thomas Is ‘All Gas’

Since joining the organization, different observers and coaches have noted that Thomas is one of the more hard-working athletes they’ve ever been around. “He’s the epitome of all gas,” Saleh told reporters when asked about his insane work ethic.

“He’s awesome,” the Jets HC continued. “An example [of his work ethic] is [during] OTAs we have a bowling outing as a team, we come back and he goes right to the gym. He is constantly trying to better himself, trying to better those around him. He’s constantly just 100 miles an hour, everything he’s got, and doesn’t leave anything left in the tank.”

Saleh added that despite being “undersized” for the D-tackle position, Thomas “plays with so much explosiveness and power that he doesn’t get moved very often.”

Whoever ends up starting next to Williams, expect there to be a heavy rotation on the D-line. “You’re more fresh,” Thomas voiced about the way Saleh operates his snap count. “It’s honestly an advantage to be able to play with different styles of [defensive linemen].”

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