Florham Park, NJ— Today was the last day of training camp, and the team looked worn out from weeks of practicing under the summer sun. Today’s practice was mostly about preparing for the Giants, with scout team offenses and defenses going about 30% on the starting offense and defense.
Now that camp has broken, here are my three stars and three disappointments of camp. Players like Quincy Enunwa and Jamal Adams have been playing incredibly well but they already play at a high level, so I did not include them in this list. Nor did I include Sam Darnold, as our coverage as well as other publications coverage on him has been tremendous. For disappointments I only have included people that have been healthy and on the field, so Lorenzo Mauldin gets a break.
- Trenton Cannon – Trenton Cannon came into camp as an unknown, a sixth-round pick from a division II school. Up until he tweaked his leg, he had done nothing but impress. With Elijah McGuire going down with a broken foot, he was given plenty of reps. He consistently made his presence felt on sweeps and runs outside the tackle, and was quick to bounce up while taking some of the nastiest licks in camps. Thus is the life of a rookie. His speed and explosiveness have left Todd Bowles wanting more, and the Jets have been trying him out at punt returner. He was a prolific kick returner in college, leading the NCAA in return average. However, he only returned one punt in his time at Virginia State. He hasn’t looked the best and even muffed two punts in the preseason opener, but his impact in the run game will be felt immediately with the loss of McGuire, who’s skill set is similar.
- Nathan Shepherd – Another division II rookie, Nathan Shepherd was drafted with the eighth pick in the third round. He came in and wrangled the starting job opposite Leonard Williams away from Henry Anderson. Shepherd plays a violent, physical style that will have fans remembering the head-slapping days and players like Deacon Jones. He is productive on both the pass rush and the run game, but more so in the run game, usually establishing the line of scrimmage two yards back. Although he is a rookie, he is already 24 and shows the poise and maturity to be an NFL starter right away, and for a long time.
- Jordan Leggett – Although Jordan Leggett did not start camp until the Jets traveled to Richmond due to a lingering knee injury suffered last preseason, he has come on strong since his return. In the practices he was absent, newcomer Clive Walford had played very well, and I had to choose between Leggett and Walford for this spot, as Maccagnan will have to do come September. Leggett is 6”6’ and uses every inch of his frame to seal defenders to ensure he makes the catch in the middle of the field. His blocking still leaves something to be desired, but his ability to make big catches in the middle of the field make up for it, and make him a target in the red zone.
- Henry Anderson – As previously stated, Henry Anderson has lost his starting job to Nathan Shepherd. Although that is more a testament to how Nathan Shepherd has played, Anderson has not looked good. The Jets got Anderson for a seventh-round pick in this years draft, and he has looked like a seventh-round pick. His pad level has been way too high all of camp, and tackles have had no problem standing him up and stopping his pass rush. He relies more on speed and guile than strength, but even so his pads are still too high. The Colts castoff still has a chance to make this roster, but that is due to a lack of veterans at the position more than anything else. The team brought in Kendall Reyes for the same reason, and neither have impressed. During the season, his limited snap will almost certainly be ceded to Folorunso Fatukasi as the rookie progresses.
- Chad Hansen – The second-year receiver had a big minicamp that had all the beat writers buzzing. The receiving core of the Jets had been completely revamped, and besides the starting four of Terrelle Pryor, Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, and Jermaine Kearse, it was an entirely open competition that he appeared to be winning. Hansen had to fend off his fifth spot from the likes of Tre McBride, Charles Johnson, ArDarius Stewart, Charone Peake, Andre Roberts, and Lucky Whitehead. Everyone but Lucky Whitehead has had more of an impact in the preseason than Hansen. He had no receptions in the preseason opener vs. the Falcons, and vs. Washington he made one reception for zero yards. Not the play of someone who’s going to make the roster.
- The Offensive Line– The Jets offensive line has been pitiful. They made moves to upgrade the center position in the signing of Spencer Long, but he has been fumbling snaps since the beginning of camp, and just when those problems appeared to be in the rear-view mirror, he fumbled another one today with Sam Darnold under center. Kelvin Beachum missed the preseason game vs. Washington with a broken foot, and in his absence Brent Qvale was a disaster. He could not compete against the starting pass-rush, and was a total liability in the run game. Patriots castoff Antonio Garcia, who was drafted in the third-round in 2017, did not fare better against the second string, and looked absolutely lost on run-plays. Brandon Shell and James Carpenter have looked pedestrian at best. Jonnothan Harrison has been playing well, and appears to have taken over back-up center responsibilities from Travis Swanson, and Ben Braden appears to have taken steps forward since spending last year on the practice squad. Besides that, they have all been disappointing, and could be the undoing of the Jets this year.
Injury Notes– Kelvin Beachum, Brian Winters, Quincy Enunwa, and Terrelle Pryor are all probable for this Friday’s game vs. the Giants. Trenton Cannon and Parry Nickerson have been practicing this week, and should play as well. Steve McLendon had his jersey on today, but Bowles has declared him out.