Jets RB Thomas Jones against the Eagles last season. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Will Brett Favre play on Thursday night against the Eagles?
If you have been reading the back pages of the New York newspapers, you would think that there is no possibility. But head coach Eric Mangini has not yet closed the door on possibly playing Favre against the Eagles. He even left it open when he spoke to the media on Tuesday afternoon.
“He’d love to be able to get tons of work and have all the OTAs and all that stuff,” said Mangini. It's just not where we are right now. The most important thing to me is us getting ready as a group and getting ready for Miami. I think the more work that he does with our guys in the group, the better.”
Even though Mangini hasn’t made his decision whether to play Favre public, it would still be a surprise to many to see #4 trot out on to the field Thursday night. So if Favre does not play on Thursday night, backup quarterback Kellen Clemens and third-stringer Brett Ratliff will get the majority of the reps while rookie Erik Ainge will get significant playing time too.
For Clemens he realizes that Thursday night will hopefully be the last time he touches the field. Clemens understands that Favre is the man in New York and he is football’s iron man as Favre rarely misses any games.
“I saw it last night on ESPN last night. It was something like 253 [consecutive games]. Obviously, if you look at it historically his backups haven’t got a lot of time which is a testament to how tough he is both mentally and physically,” said Clemens. “If things go well I am not going to see the field too much more after Thursday night.”
Even though the Jets have a starting quarterback, there are still other positions and roster spots up for grabs. One of the spots is in the secondary. With CB Justin Miller injured during last week’s game and not able to practice yet, look for Mangini to keep a close eye on the secondary. Rookie CB Dwight Lowery, who had good first preseason game with a punt return for a touchdown and an interception, got a majority of the reps at cornerback after Miller left with his foot injury. If Lowery can have a good game Thursday night it could make Mangini’s job easier as other CB’s such as Ahmad Carroll and Rudy Burgess are all look for spots on the 53-man roster, which has to be filled out by Saturday.
Jets “O” vs. Eagles “D”
As said earlier their will probably be no Brett Favre, which means it is the Clemens-Ratliff Show. And even though Clemens is the front-runner for the backup spot, with Eric Mangini there is nothing set in stone. If Ratliff can have a good game while Clemens performs poorly, Mangini might really have to think about who the backup should. With that being said look for both quarterbacks to bring their A+ game as this is last chance either will see the field for the entire season.
Jets “D” vs. Eagles “O”
So far this preseason their has been one player that has stood out over the other’s and that in LB Cody Spencer. Spencer, who leads the team in sacks with three, has caught the eye of head coach Eric Mangini because of his flexibility to play in all different defensive formations.
”Cody has done a great job this preseason. What I've liked about Cody, since he's been here is he has really developed as a player. He transitioned from a core (special) teams guy, and was able to work at outside linebacker,” said Mangini. “Then he worked in the sub package. [He] has the three sacks through the preseason, and made some really smart calls in the sub package. [He made] really aware calls in the sub package that I've liked seeing. He’s also worked at inside linebacker, so he's created position flexibility.”
Jets Special Teams vs. Eagles Special Teams
This is where the Jets have to be careful in the game. So far this preseason the Eagles have been very dangerous in the return game as they have one punt return for a touchdown and kick return for a touchdown. The Jets special teams have been very good in kick/punt coverage. If the Jets can stop the Eagles return game the end result should be positive for Gang Green.
This is the last chance for players on both teams to show their coaches why they should be included on the 53-man roster. Everyone on the field will hungry and intensity on field will be there, despite this game being a preseason game. If the Jets second and third stringers can match the intensity of the Eagles second and third stringers, the jets should walk away with the win.
Jets 17, Eagles 14