The Jets take the field on Monday night to face the Houston Texans, the first time the Gang Green has taken the field since that fateful day in Pittsburgh back in January. Jets fans have been chomping at the bit to get back on the field and take another run at a title. The starters are slated to play one quarter, here is what I am planning on watching Monday night:
First Team Chemistry
I know that this is an obvious one, but it becomes more important due to acquisitions and absences. With Nick Mangold not making the trip, the offensive line is not going to look the way it will against Dallas on September 11th. It will be interesting to watch the offensive line work together for the first time since January, and the first time in a very long time without Nick Mangold. Changes in offensive lines can mean danger for QB’s, want to see Mark Sanchez get out of there healthy.
Also to be watched is the chemistry between Mark Sanchez and Derrick Mason. Mason is 37, and although his statistics have not reflected any sign f him slowing down, he is obviously working with a new QB. The sooner Derrick and Mark are on the same page, the better.
One guy that was injured and is slated to make his return is Jim Leonhard. The team was demmoralized when he went down before the Monday night game against the Patriots. He is making his return to contact for the first time in many months, and although he is stating publicly that he feels like he did before the injury, there is nothing like contact. Even if it is preseason contact. He is the QB of the defense and to quote Reggie Jackson, he is “the straw that stirs the drink”.
New Kids On the Block
A lot of stock is being put into the draftees on the defensive line, Mo Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis. The departures of Jason Taylor, Shaun Ellis, and the retirement of Kris Jenkins have put a lot of pressure on these guys. These guys have to move mountains in order for Rex Ryan’s defense to work. Our first glimpse into the future is tomorrow night.
We will also begin to see if we have the new Brad Smith on our hands. Jeremy Kerley enters the game as the primary kick and punt returner. Coach Westhoff has done nothing but rave about this kid since camp opened. He also took snaps this week in the “Wildcat” during practice. They seem to be grooming him as the future Brad Smith, our first glimpse is tomorrow night.
The Battle of the Legs
Many Jets fans, myself included, have wanted to say goodbye to Nick Folk. Now we have Nick Novak in camp pushing him, and that will be an interesting battle to watch starting tomorrow night.
With the departure of Steve Weatherford, we now have the battle of the punters. TJ Conley, whom we became acquainted with on “Hard Knocks” last year, is in a hot battle with Chris Bryan. The coaches have touted this battle to have gone back and forth so far in training camp, so this will be interesting as well.
Topics: Alan Schechter, Brad Smith, Chris Bryan, Derrick Mason, Jason Taylor, Jeremy Kerley, Jim Leonhard, Kenrick Ellis, Kris Jenkins, Mark Sanchez, Mike Westhoff, Mo Wilkerson, NFL, Nick Folk, NIck Mangold, Nick Novak, NY Jets, Rex Ryan, Shaun Ellis, Tj Conley