Training Camp Preview: Wide Receivers
By Parmida Schahhosseini
As the New York Jets start training camp, their wide receiver corps will once again be great thanks to veteran experience and a ton of youth on the depth chart.
Training camp is finally here for the New York Jets and question marks remain as to who will emerge as the No. 3 wide receiver. The Jets have plenty of options with a plethora of raw talent at their disposal, but are hoping all that untapped potential will translate on the field.
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There are several wide receivers competing for that coveted third receiver spot while others are fighting for a roster spot. Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey likes to spread the field and heavily utilizes receivers, so it’s not shocking to see anywhere from six to seven wide receivers making the 53-man roster.
Wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are coming off a monster season where they combined for 2,529 yards and 26 touchdowns. However, the dynamic duo also had 19 dropped passes between them. The Jets hope Marshall and Decker can reduce the number of drops as well as replicate last year’s production despite who may be under center.
Quincy Enunwa had a breakout season last year accounting for 45% of the Jets’ offensive snaps, finishing with 22 catches for 315 yards. Enunwa was mainly used as an H-back as well as a run blocker. His flexibility as a player and Gailey’s ability to incorporate players into various packages will provide an added dimension to the Jets’ offense.
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Last year’s second-round pick Devin Smith is coming off an ACL injury so it’s possible he starts the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
He also missed several games in 2015 after suffering a punctured lung during last year’s training camp.
Despite the injuries that have derailed his rookie season, Smith showed flashes and led the 2015 wide receiver class on passes traveling 20+ yards downfield. Gailey will most likely use Smith on the outside and move Decker in the slot where he did most of his damage. Kenbrell Thompkins, who provides depth at the receiver position, can also play on the outside, but doesn’t possess breakaway speed.
Fourth-year veteran Jeremy Ross and undrafted rookie Jalin Marshall have similar skill sets and both bring value as return men. It’s very unlikely both will make the roster, so the Jets will keep a close eye on the competition. Marshall has a higher ceiling than Ross, but the veteran has NFL experience as a return man averaging a solid 11.2 yards per punt return and 25.1 years per kick return.
Seventh-round pick Charone Peake and undrafted rookie Robby Anderson will also battle with Marshall for a spot on the roster. Peake’s rare combination of size and speed is enough to turn heads, but was often overshadowed at Clemson by the likes of Sammy Watkins (Buffalo Bills), Martavis Bryant (Pittsburgh Steelers) and DeAndre Hopkins (Houston Texans).
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Peake has ability to operate on all levels of the field which will give Gailey more creative play calling options. Anderson is a project player as he has blazing speed and brings special team experience to a team desperately trying to improve in all facets of special teams play. But he has an uphill battle in an already crowded wide receiver room.