Highly Anticipated Jets Rookie Will Be Active Against Falcons

Kenny Yeboah, Jeff Smith

Getty New York Jets tight end Kenny Yeboah celebrates a touchdown with his teammates on August 27, 2021.

Every offseason has that fan-favorite rookie that supporters can’t wait to see in action.

It’s safe to say that the New York Jets had a long list of those in 2021, but one undrafted prospect that shared the honor was tight end Kenny Yeboah. The Temple/Ole Miss product was an expected selection in the NFL draft, which in part explains the hype he received heading into OTAs.

The other reason for this was his position. The Green & White have had a barren wasteland at tight end for the better part of a decade, and Yeboah provided fans with some hope. That’s why it was so disappointing when he didn’t make the Week 1 roster despite a huge preseason performance against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Instead, special teamer Daniel Brown took his spot and Yeboah found a role on the practice squad.

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Yeboah Gets the Call

We speculated that the rookie might receive a practice squad elevation in Week 4, being that starter Tyler Kroft was questionable. In the end, the veteran was able to suit up and Yeboah was left watching from afar.

Heading towards Week 5 in London, Kroft wound up on the injury report yet again. This time, it was announced that he would be unable to make the trip, providing Yeboah with the opportunity that he’s been waiting for (per team reporter Eric Allen).

The move makes perfect sense. Given the complexity of this playbook and the lack of time to bring in someone new during London week, the Jets didn’t have many other options. They could have rolled with three tight ends (Ryan Griffin, Trevon Wesco and Brown), but Yeboah was the only real replacement that was in the building.

Now that it’s official, the next question will be whether or not the rookie sees any snaps. Wesco has transitioned into a fullback role and Brown doesn’t normally play offense so theoretically, Yeboah could step into the number two role behind Griffin. I’d expect him to receive a look or two on receiving sets where he provides the most upside but that’s not all the youngster can do.

It’s a common misconception that the UDFA cannot block. He’s not an in-line tight end like Kroft or Griffin but he’s a pretty decent blocker out in space. During the preseason, Yeboah earned the highest blocking marks from Pro Football Focus out of all Jets’ tight ends, with a 76.7 in pass protection and a 74.8 in the run game.

Atlanta will field an exciting rookie tight end of their own in Kyle Pitts that Saleh referred to as “pretty freaking good.” The 2021 first-round pick is expected to get the lion’s share of the targets with Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage sidelined.

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Injury Updates From Jets Camp

Saleh also provided good news when it came to rookies Elijah Moore and Brandin Echols.

Both have become fast-starters during their rookie campaigns but recent concussions sidelined the pair. The wide receiver missed Week 4 altogether while the cornerback left the game against Tennessee — both appear “on track” to play in London.

This could mean a reduced role for Keelan Cole, who had a breakthrough outing in the win over the Titans. It could also mean we don’t see much of Denzel Mims for the fifth straight game.

As for the secondary, the cornerback roles should remain the same. Echols has started across from Bryce Hall all season with Michael Carter II manning the slot. That leaves Javelin Guidry to play the role of the super sub, a job he does well, with Isaiah Dunn as the emergency backup.

The safety position could also provide some opportunity in Week 5. Adrian Colbert is out with an injury and the franchise decided to release Jarrod Wilson at a curious moment. He did end up reverting to the practice squad, but that leaves Ashtyn Davis and Sharrod Neasman as the only safeties on the roster against the Falcons.

Davis didn’t look prepared for a full-time role in his first game back from injury last weekend, so it’s possible we’ll see Dunn or Carter take some snaps in the back-end. Both doubled as safeties in college. Linebacker Jamien Sherwood could also play some box safety in a pinch.

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