Jets thinning out at wide receiver

Florham Park, NJ- Last week the Jets could only muster six points against the Steelers. They went into the game without the injured Santonio Holmes, and the recently suspended Kellen Winslow. Now they’ll be without RB Mike Goodson and WR Clyde Gates who both went on IR earlier this week.

Geno Smith is left with Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, Jeff Cumberland, and midseason acquisitions David Nelson, Josh Cribbs, and Greg Salas. Actually scratch Salas; he’s been dealing with a hamstring injury. That’s a pretty thin group to go against a 5-1 New England team that just knocked off the unbeaten Saints.

The Jets will be without Santonio Holmes and several other receivers they started the season with.

“We practice very hard, hopefully we can build enough of a rapport with one another to the fact that we can go out and execute,” said Smith. “When the game is on the line, we’re not thinking about the name or the number on the back of the jersey. We’re all here with that Jets logo on the side of our helmets and trying to win for the organization.”

That’s a good attitude, but the receivers are going to need to step up. While Kerley and Cumberland have been reliable, there needs to be more production outside of those two.

Hill has already improved upon his rookie season, putting up more yards and showing his big play potential with a 16.7 ypc average. But he’s got to be more consistent in games. His season-high for receptions in a game is 6, and that came in game one against Tampa Bay. He’s only had 12 receptions in the other four games he’s played in. In those four games the only time he caught more than half the passes he was targeted on was against Atlanta, and he was only targeted two times in that one.

David Nelson was signed a few weeks ago pretty much off his couch. Since then he has totaled three receptions for 20 yards. He’s now the Jets third receiver on the depth chart.

In 2011 Josh Cribbs posted career-highs across the board at receiver, totaling 41 receptions for 518 yard and four touchdowns. Not eye-popping numbers, but not bad for a team in need of production at the receiver position. Problem is he had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in the offseason, and the injury scared off enough teams that he didn’t make an NFL roster until the Jets signed him earlier this week. Plus it’s not known what his role will be with the team.

“Wherever they need me,” said Cribbs. “We talked about it. It’s a weekly decision, a gameday decision. We’re rotating reps, so whatever they need me (to do).”

Right now that appears to be as a kick returner with Gates and Goodson on IR. After all he did make the Pro Bowl in that role with Cleveland.

“We think that he looks pretty good right now,” said Rex Ryan. “Now, what that means, what kind of role he’ll have on offense, I’m not sure yet. Certainly, he’ll have a role as a returner for us.”

As mapped out there are a lot of question marks with this group, but if there is a silver lining it’s that they are young and eager.

“Every guy comes out with the right mentality and attitude,” said Smith. “We’re getting better. That goes for every single guy in this locker room. And all the young guys, we’re hungry, we want to be the marquee players. We all use each other to kind of motivate one another and to get better on a daily basis in practice.”

Sunday will be a good opportunity for these young guys to make a name for themselves. Nothing will get you remembered faster than a win against New England.

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