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Preseason Preview: Jets @ Detroit Lions

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith take center stage in their first preseason game against the Detroit Lions on Friday night.

Cortland, NY – The last time the Jets were in Detroit they escaped with a 23-20 overtime victory.

At the time, Mark Sanchez hit Santonio Holmes with a 52 yard pass, setting up a game winning 30-yard field goal by Nick Folk. It was 2010, they were 6-2 and halfway to their second straight AFC championship game appearance.

Oh, how times have changed.

The Jets will roll into the Motor City on Friday night for their first preseason game of 2013 with a whole lot of questions and few clear-cut answers.

Injuries, along with Mike Goodson’s ongoing legal troubles, have ravaged their already murky running back situation. They lack top flight wide receivers and tight ends. The second starting safety position is up for grabs.

Then there are the quarterbacks.

All those questions won’t be answered in one game but things should begin to take shape as we see the team, and the quarterbacks, take some real hits.

WHEN: Friday, August 9, 2013, 7:30 p.m. EST (TV-CBS, Radio-ESPN New York 98.7FM)

WHERE: Ford Field, Detroit, MI

INJURY REPORT:

Jets – Head coach Rex Ryan has turned quasi-Belichickian in his handling of player injuries lately, not giving much in the way of actual information. Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow might see some playing time but Ryan wouldn’t commit. This could be how new general manager John Idzik wants to run things from now on so we’ll update the list as new information becomes available.

Chris Ivory (hamstring): Ivory told reporters that he has been cleared to begin practicing next week but he almost certainly won’t play in Friday’s preseason opener. Ryan wouldn’t comment on anything beyond that, except the passing mention that Ivory has only 3 percent body fat. So, there’s that.

Joe McKnight (head): In a bizarre moment at Wednesday’s press conference, Ryan pled the fifth when repeatedly questioned about McKnight’s injury, only saying that it was to his “head.” Bottom line: McKnight most likely has a concussion, is going through the league’s protocol, and will not play on Friday.

Santonio Holmes (foot): The star wideout is still recovering from last year’s season-ending Lisfranc injury and will be out of Friday’s game. Holmes has reportedly been telling friends he won’t be ready to play until Week 4, while the Jets seem to think he still has a shot at being ready for the season opener. Holmes was at practice on Wednesday, gingerly strolling up and down the sideline.

Vidal Hazelton (knee): The young wide receiver was having a great camp until he injured his knee in practice on Tuesday. Hazelton walked off the field with trainers but Ryan confirmed on Wednesday that the injury appears to be serious. Ryan wouldn’t elaborate but it could possibly be a season-ending ACL tear.

Lions – Safety Louis Delmas (Probable), Wide Receiver Ryan Broyles (Questionable)

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

The Quarterbacks: Obviously, this is the main attraction. On Tuesday, Ryan told reporters Sanchez would  get the first preseason start, saying “he’s earned it” for having a solid camp and for being the incumbent. The race for starter is far from over, however, as Geno has been impressive as well. If there’s one thing that’s clear about the rookie so far it’s that he’s a confident young man. “I never have butterflies. I’ve never been that type of person. I don’t think I get nervous at all,” he told reporters on Wednesday. He says all the right things, but you can tell he wants the job and he’s coming to get it.

Be sure to see how both quarterbacks respond to the Lions’ intimidating defensive front, which boasts Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and 2013 first round pick Ezekiel Ansah. Things can change once the red jersies come off.

Stephen Hill: The second-year receiver out of Georgia Tech had what some might call a disappointing first year in the NFL, but in reality he was just still really green. Hill has been impressive in camp and for the Jets to have any success on offense he’s going to have to step up his game. Hill has all the measurables – 6 foot 4, 215 pounds with 4.3 speed – but it’s a matter of that translating into production. With Holmes out, Braylon Edwards aging and mostly unproven talent beyond Jeremy Kerley, Hill has all the opportunity in the world.

“Megatron vs. the Megacorner”: That’s how Ryan described the match-up between Lions’ All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson and Antonio Cromartie. They might not square-off for long but it should be exciting nonetheless. Johnson is virtually uncoverable but if there’s a corner with the height and talent to get the best of him, it’s Cromartie.

X-FACTOR:

The running back position has been a mess for most of training camp, but the lone bright spot is the emergence of third-year back Bilal Powell. He was the star of the Green and White scrimmage, and with Ivory, McKnight and Goodson all out for various reasons, Powell could create some serious separation in the eye’s of Jets coaches.

Also, keep an eye out for rookie wide receiver Ryan Spadola who has had a very good camp.