Lost amidst the news of the Country Music Awards, Rex’s annual public chastising of a player for motivation and tight hamstrings was the fact that outside linebacker Antwan Barnes has had complications with his rehabilitation and MAY not be ready for the beginning of training camp. After last year’s torn ACL, the goal has always been to be 100% by training camp so Barnes can be in game shape by Week 1.
Barnes is an underrated piece to the Jets defense and his loss would definitely be felt. He provides, when healthy, a speed rusher which is a tool that is lacking on the team. According to Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com, Barnes had 16 quarterback hits and 2 sacks in just 5 games where he played a total of 145 snaps. The Jets are missing that one guy that pressures the edge, makes the quarterback throw early and makes the tackle false start trying to get an extra step. Barnes, in the limited sample size here, seems to be that guy as he has been a double digit sack guy in the past as well.
Could this be the reason Coples shed 15 pounds in the offseason in preparation for more outside linebacker work? At 290 pounds Coples was built for power and had success rushing as an interior lineman as well as an end and a linebacker mostly rushing inside. At 275 hopefully more of his athletic ability shines through and he can add some speed moves to his repertoire and test the edge more.
The season is still 90+ days away so there is plenty of time for Barnes’ rehab to get back on schedule and get on the field Week 1. If he can’t the Jets are going to have to look for late roster cuts for help with depth and Coples is going to have even more pressure to perform in a make-or-break year for him.