Much will be tested in preseason opener

Jul 28, 2016; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles speaks to the media during training camp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 28, 2016; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles speaks to the media during training camp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

As the New York Jets get ready for their first preseason game tonight, everything they’ve been working hard on in training camp will be tested against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

As we all know, training camp for the New York Jets has been under way and the team’s first preseason game is tonight against the Jacksonville Jaguars who are headed to MetLife Stadium to start things off. It is an annual test among those fortunate enough to play in the NFL and the game gives the fans the first glimpse of what the team has to offer in the season ahead.

Related Story: Top 10 players to watch against Jaguars

This season, much like last year, saw general manager Mike Maccagnan and his scouting department add new talent to the roster and bring plenty of competitors to the field. In the past two seasons, the Jets have certainly added talent, and this summer has been about teaching the youngsters and getting them ready to contribute in 2016.

Tonight, the lessons that have been taught by head coach Todd Bowles, offensive coordinator Chan Gailey and their respective staffs will be put to the test. While it’s pretty certain fans won’t get to see much more than the base formations, and very little of the number one squad, the younger players will have ample time to grab the attention of the coaches.

Keep your eye on Jalin Marshall. The young undrafted free agent wide receiver out of Ohio State has been the talk of training camp thus far, and you can bet the coaches eyes will be on him as well. In the newly released depth chart, Marshall is still way down the list, and this game will give him another opportunity to convince the staff he belongs.

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While you’re watching, fans will also get to watch an interesting group at linebacker this year.

The Jets made a concerted effort to bring in pass rushing talent in an attempt to increase the sack totals from last year and to apply even more pressure to opposing quarterbacks.

Lorenzo Mauldin and Jordan Jenkins are listed as the starters at outside linebacker, while Erin Henderson and David Harris are listed as the starters on the inside.

We’re going to see much more of the rest of the group on Thursday however.

Players like Freddie Bishop, Mike Catapano, Trevor Reilly, Darron Lee, Bruce Carter, and Deion Barnes will all have their opportunities to audition for their roles in 2016. It is a talented bunch and game action will go a long way to help tell who will stand out and stick.

This year offers a lot of different positions of interest for fans to keep their eyes on as training camp and preseason moves along. My focus will be on the development of the Jets’ offensive line for 2016, there remains some questions about the final make up of this group, and I’ll be looking for any improvements over 2015.

Offensive lineman Ryan Clady will go up against live game action for the first time since suffering a knee injury that ended his season in 2015. James Carpenter also suffered through some bumps and bruises so it’ll be interesting to see where he’s at right now. Fans won’t see much of either on Thursday, but we are certainly going to see plenty of the backups tonight.

This is a make or break camp for some of these players, as the Jets get set to revamp this line in 2017. Ben Ijalana and Brian Williams are listed as starters on the right side while Clady and Carpenter man the left side, veteran Nick Mangold rounds out the group.

new york jets
new york jets /

Jul 28, 2016; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets center Nick Mangold (74) looks on during training camp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Winters and Injala will likely get some extensive work while the staff mixes in players like rookie Brandon Shell for closer looks. If Breno Giacomini remains on the PUP list into the season, the team will need to find a replacement and game action goes a long way to helping evaluate who that might be.

I know preseason games can turn into real “yawners”, but this season there should be enough intrigue to provide most avid fans interested to at least half time! The Jets are building a younger and faster team from the bottom up, which should make the second and third stringers that more interesting to watch.

That holds true at cornerback where a large group of contenders battle each other for a spot. Rookie Juston Burris has shown well in camp but will face NFL receivers for the first time in game action, while veteran Dee Milliner will have another chance to prove he can play to his draft position. Cornerback should be a fun watch, keep your eyes on this group tonight to see how it all comes together.

Other things to look for is the reported progression in tight end Jace Amaro‘s game. He’s been making noise throughout training camp, and I’m looking forward to him taking it a step further in game action. Running back Matt Forte is set to debut in Green and White in game action, and every fan will be excited to see the Jets’ running game.

Running back Bilal Powell‘s game has reportedly taken a step forward as well, while fans will have to likely wait to see Khiry Robinson in game action. Special teams will also be of interest, last season was poor, but new special teams coordinator Brant Boyer promises a more aggressive approach to the team.

Enjoy the action, Jets Nation. Keep an eye on your favorite players as they get ready for hopefully another memorable year. The score is meaningless, it’s all about how well the players have learned and how they can apply those lessons in game action. This is just the beginning, August 30th will bring the roster down to 75 players, so it’s imperative that the “bubble players” make the most of their opportunities. Keep an eye out for the standouts.

must read: Top 3 players who must shine vs Jacksonville

Live game action returns to Jets fans after a long drought, and I for one, am looking forward to what the 2016 version of this team have to offer. Enjoy the fun and leave your comments below on who you’re looking forward to the most in tonight’s action!