Aug 21, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive back Rontez Miles (45) runs for a touchdown after recovering a fumble during the second half of their game against the Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Falcons 30-22. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Coming off of a second-straight win, the New York Jets are looking hot as Week 1 inches closer and closer. Tonight, Gang Green will take on the Eagles in the preseason finale in hopes to get more production out of the bubble players before the final cuts are made. On Sunday, New York had to part ways with 12 players in order to trim the roster down to the 75-man limit that was due by Tuesday. Some of the big names to get cut were DeVier Posey, T.J. Graham, Saalim Hakim and Dalton Freeman. All of them were on last year’s team.
This past Tuesday, the Jets unfortunately lost tight end Jace Amaro for the remainder of the year with a torn shoulder labrum, so moving him to the IR helped in trimming the roster as well. Dashaun Phillips and Kevin Vickerson were additionally placed on the season-ending IR which officially brought New York down to 75 players.
Vickerson is a veteran who could have helped the Jets greatly from a depth standpoint, therefore he’ll be missed on the defensive line. Given the 15 recent moves, there will be many opportunities for the players on the fringe looking to sneak onto the 53-man roster.
Here are the top 3 players who must shine in the final tune-up against the Eagles.
Next: 3. Shaq Evans
Jul 24, 2014; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Shaq Evans (81) runs with the ball during drills at training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
3. Shaq Evans
In his return from a back injury that knocked him out of the second preseason game, Evans put up a disappointing night against the Giants with no catches on three targets. The main issue with him is his inability to stay healthy, and he’s only been in the league for two years. In his rookie year, Evans needed shoulder surgery just one week into camp. The surgery sidelined him for the rest of the season and the receiving corps struggled as a result.
Evans was a fourth-round pick, so he may not have played a significant role, but practically every receiver on the roster played a snap last year. This was because of how pathetic the Jets’ offense had been throughout the season. Wideouts Chris Owusu and T.J. Graham saw time pretty much right when they were acquired due to how desperate Gang Green was to find production.
Right now, Evans’ competition seems to be Walter Powell who against the Giants, returned a punt for a touchdown in the second half. Quincy Enunwa can also be looked at as a guy on the roster bubble, however he’s been used as a tight end as of late according to Gang Green Nation. If he were to edge out Powell, Evans would be the No. 6 receiver on the depth chart behind the likes of Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley, Devin Smith and Owusu. All eyes will be on Evans tonight as he looks to make the final cut.
Next: 2. Dexter McDougle
Jun 9, 2015; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets cornerback Dexter McDougle (23) and New York Jets cornerback Marcus Williams (20) talk during New York Jets minicamp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
If McDougle were to miss the 53-man roster, it would be a pretty big disappointment for the former third-round pick. Nonetheless, another member of the “Idzik 12” would take a tumble, and that wouldn’t come as a surprise to any Jets fan. Jalen Saunders, Jeremiah George, Brandon Dixon, IK Enemkpali and Tajh Boyd were all part of ex-general manager John Idzik’s 2014 draft class which thus far has failed miserably. A McDougle departure would only tack onto what has been an epic disaster thus far.
Last season, McDougle tore his ACL just days after the Jets’ preseason opener against the Colts. This left Gang Green with just Dee Milliner and Dimitri Patterson as the starting corners. About two weeks later, New York released Patterson after he went eight days AWOL. McDougle’s injury made matters much worse and forced the Jets to move safety Antonio Allen to cornerback out of desperation, which ended up being a terrible decision.
From then on, cornerback was the team’s biggest concern, and that’s including the quarterback position. Now, the Maryland product finds himself in a very crowded secondary with teammate Darrin Walls as ultimately the No. 7 corner on the depth chart. Marcus Williams is another guy breathing down McDougle’s neck, so the former Terrapin could find himself in do or die mode in tonight’s action. Let’s see if he can pull through and make the roster despite heavy competition.
Next: 1. Rontez Miles
Jun 9, 2015; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets linebacker Rontez Miles (45) catches the ball during New York Jets minicamp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
1. Rontez Miles
Miles has now been a part of the Jets for two years, although he’s never cracked the 53-man roster to begin the season. He’s dressed and played a handful of snaps on special teams, but in 2015 he’s looking to finally see playing time at the safety position. Due to Allen’s Achilles injury that will keep him sidelined for the remainder of the season, the door is now open for Miles to make the final cut.
The un-drafted free agent is a safety who likes to play up in the box and stand out in run support. He has showed he can make plays in the preseason, now it’s up to the front office in deciding if he can make plays in the regular season when it counts. In the match-up against the Falcons, Miles took a dropped hand-off 57 yards for a touchdown in route to a 30-22 Jets victory. The score put Gang Green up 30-14 late in the third quarter, so the game was almost out of reach after that big play.
Miles’ only competition heading into tonight is un-drafted rookie Durell Eskridge. Eskridge played his college ball at Syracuse, however he’s more of a free safety opposed to strong. Walls has also received snaps at safety, but like Eskridge, he’s on the field as a free safety. Outside of Calvin Pryor, Miles is the only in-the-box safety on the roster. If he can have a big night against the Eagles, the chances of him making the team become almost guaranteed.