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5 questions heading into training camp with Christa Levitas

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FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 2FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 24: Bryce Petty #9 of the New York Jets hands the ball off to Bilal Powell #29 during the first half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)4: Bryce Petty
FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 2FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 24: Bryce Petty #9 of the New York Jets hands the ball off to Bilal Powell #29 during the first half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)4: Bryce Petty
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FOXBORO, MA – DECEMBER 2FOXBORO, MA – DECEMBER 24: Bryce Petty #9 of the New York Jets hands the ball off to Bilal Powell #29 during the first half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)4: Bryce Petty
FOXBORO, MA – DECEMBER 2FOXBORO, MA – DECEMBER 24: Bryce Petty #9 of the New York Jets hands the ball off to Bilal Powell #29 during the first half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)4: Bryce Petty

Training camp starts this week for the New York Jets as Luis Tirado Jr. of The Jet Press is joined by Christa Levitas of Locker Room Update to discuss the top five questions that hopefully should be answered throughout the summer.

For months now, fans of the New York Jets have been waiting for training camp to begin. Yes, there is very little hope or even positive vibes heading into the regular season since we all know what’s happening when it comes to our beloved Jets.

Rebuilding isn’t easy but is something that needs to happen if the Jets ever plan to be contenders again in the future. Keep in mind, rebuilding takes time and at the end of the day, the Jets might not be ready until another two or dare I say, three years from now. It all starts somewhere and for now, that time is finally here.

Training camp, at least for the Jets, is all about solid competition across the entire team to find some young hidden gems in the rough. No position is set in stone as every player will work hard and compete to earn starting positions and etch their name on the final 53-man roster. As fans prepare for an eventful training camp ahead, I wanted to reach out to Christa Levitas of Locker Room Update to get her unique insight on the top five questions that hopefully get answered once all is said and done.

Levitas has done countless interviews with some of the top prospects in the nation. She’s also a Jets guru and well, knows everything about the franchise, especially what awaits this year. Now, please join us as we sit and discuss training camp for the Jets heading into the 2017 regular season. Also, please follow Levitas on her Facebook author page, Twitter, and again, check out her incredible work over at Locker Room Update.

Next: 5. Who steps up as No. 3 wide receiver?

TUSCALOOSA, AL – SEPTEMBER 10: ArDarius Stewart #13 of the Alabama Crimson Tide in action against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
TUSCALOOSA, AL – SEPTEMBER 10: ArDarius Stewart #13 of the Alabama Crimson Tide in action against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

5. Who steps up as No. 3 wide receiver?

LTJ: As always, ladies first, Christa! Before we begin, I’d like to thank you for joining me here on over at The Jet Press to discuss what awaits our Jets. With that being said, what’s the first question that pops into your mind?

CL: The pleasure is all mine. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk Jets football with you, Luis! Always a pleasure to collaborate with you for The Jet Press! With Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson being linked to the No. 1 and No. 2 wide receiver, Who do you think will emerge as the Jets No. 3 wide receiver?

LTJ: Anytime, my good friend! Well, I know we have similar interests when it comes to our college football interests. I’m also a fan of the Alabama Crimson Tide and well, I’m excited for everything wide receiver ArDarius Stewart brings to the table for the Jets.

I know he’s coming off a thumb surgery this offseason and missed organized team activities due to it but I’m confident if he’s able to participate in training camp, he’ll hopefully bring some of his speed and solid route running to prove his worth. Ultimately, if he’s healthy and competing at the level I enjoyed seeing him execute at Alabama, I see him being the No. 3 receiving option for the Jets. What about you?

CL: Yes, love my Alabama football! I love Stew Stew. When I watched the phone call on the Jets website it seemed like he had a huge fan in new offensive coordinator John Morton. He expressed his excitement when the pick was made.

Stewart can do it all at the wide receiver position. He has great speed, good hands, and is an overall complete wide receiver. What’s amazing was that even though Alabama last season was 87th in passing offense, he still managed to be productive and was a great target for Alabama’s freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts.

I’m very interested to see how this battle pans out. There’s a lot of youth and potential at wide receiver but my choice is actually Charone Peake. Peake is someone who I was happy the Jets drafted. His injury knocked his draft stock at the time. He is a smart football player, has great size, and good speed. I believe the second year wide receiver will make a strong push for the No. 3 WR role.

LTJ: Interesting pick there, Christa! The competition will be fierce for that No. 3 spot as I can’t wait to see who earns it behind Enunwa and Anderson. Alright, now it’s my turn to ask the next question!

Next: 4. Will the defensive secondary bounce back?

ARLINGTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 25: Eddie Royal #19 of the Chicago Bears and Morris Claiborne #24 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 25: Eddie Royal #19 of the Chicago Bears and Morris Claiborne #24 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

4. Will the defensive secondary bounce back?

LTJ: Last season, the defensive secondary of the Jets was some of the worst play I’ve ever seen. They had no sense of urgency, pride, and lacked overall execution. It made sense for the Jets to completely blow it up and not only add some new faces via the 2017 NFL Draft but added a key free agent cornerback to replace Darrelle Revis.

Christa, this new-look defensive secondary will easily make or break the season for the Jets. While I’m happy the Jets added cornerback Morris Claiborne via free agency, his injury-prone history concerns me greatly as are having so many new young faces, especially the rookies, in that defensive backfield. Do you think the secondary will bounce back this time around due to all the new blood or will it be a repeat disaster due to a lack of experience and well, that chance that a lot of these guys won’t play a full season without getting hurt?

CL: Last season, the Jets secondary was terrible and quite frankly, disappointing. I understand the concerns about Claiborne but I also feel that there’s is a lot to be optimistic about when it comes to the Jets secondary.

The Jets drafted Jamal Adams who I believe will be a tone setter and a great leader for the defense. He’s the ideal player for Todd Bowles defense. He’s a smart player who does everything well at safety. Marcus Maye is a player who I thought was underrated from the Florida Gators. He has good speed, great instincts, and was also pretty good in coverage from the highlights I have watched. Both are interchangeable safeties and I believe they will make a great duo for the Jets. I love that the Jets picked up Claiborne. He is a good cornerback when healthy like you mentioned. I believe since the Jets blew up the secondary this gives players such as Juston Burris, Darryl Roberts, Dexter McDougle the newly drafted rookies Jeremy Clark and Derrick Jones (sorry if I left anyone out) a chance to earn my playing time since there’s no clear cut starter on the opposite end of Claiborne. I think the young players will be motivated by the chance to get more playing time and I believe the secondary as a whole improved. There may be a learning curve since they are all relatively young but I believe they will bounce back.

Both are interchangeable safeties and I believe they will make a great duo for the Jets. I love that the Jets picked up Claiborne as he is a good cornerback when healthy like you mentioned. I believe since the Jets blew up the secondary, this gives players such as Juston Burris, Darryl Roberts, Dexter McDougle the newly drafted rookies Jeremy Clark and Derrick Jones (sorry if I left anyone out) a chance to earn playing time since there’s no clear cut starter on the opposite end of Claiborne. I think the young players will be motivated by the chance to get more playing time and I believe the secondary as a whole improved. There may be a learning curve since they are all relatively young but I believe they will bounce back.

LTJ: I sure hope you’re right, Christa. At least with a youth movement, all these guys are coachable and able to improve as the season progresses. Alright Christa, your turn to ask the next question heading into training camp!

Next: 3. Which UDFA makes the final cut?

BOULDER, CO – NOVEMBER 19: Wide receiver Gabe Marks #9 of the Washington State Cougars has a moment to himself during the fourth quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field on November 19, 2016 in Boulder, Colorado. Colorado defeated Washington State 38-24. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
BOULDER, CO – NOVEMBER 19: Wide receiver Gabe Marks #9 of the Washington State Cougars has a moment to himself during the fourth quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field on November 19, 2016 in Boulder, Colorado. Colorado defeated Washington State 38-24. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

3. Which UDFA makes the final cut?

CL: Awesome! Last season the Jets had a few undrafted free agents make the team like Robby Anderson, Lawrence Thomas, and Jalin Marshall. Do you believe that this season we can see another or even several undrafted free agents make the team? If so, who and why?

LTJ: I have my eyes on wide receiver Gabe Marks when it comes to an undrafted free agent making the final 53-man roster of the Jets. Have you seen his final stats at Washington State? In his collegiate career over four years, Marks totaled 3,453 receiving yards, 316 receptions, and 37 touchdowns! I honestly see him making the team and contributing right away on offense. He’ll have to work his way up since I still see others ahead of him on the depth chart but also see Marks having an impact at some point during the regular season. What about you, Christa?

CL: Awesome! Great choice! I definitely believe he will be one undrafted free agent to watch during training camp. I can see him potentially cracking the 53-man roster. I’m actually going to go a different direction and choose Connor Harris from Lindenwood. I was honestly shocked that he didn’t get drafted. The Jets have a need at linebacker and I believe Harris is a guy to watch. He is a great tackler, has good instincts, and is a good athlete. In college, he averaged 13 tackles per game and finished his career with a total of 633 tackles. Harris is my choice as a guy who is an undrafted free agent who I think could make the final roster.

LTJ: 633 tackles?!?! That’s insane and yeah, I’m definitely keeping an eye on him throughout training camp. Alright, Christa, it’s time to talk about the big elephant in the room. Hold onto your coffee!

Next: 2. Who starts at quarterback in Week 1?

CLEVELAND, OH – OCTOBER 30: Josh McCown #13 of the Cleveland Browns throws a pass during the second quarter against the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 30, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH – OCTOBER 30: Josh McCown #13 of the Cleveland Browns throws a pass during the second quarter against the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 30, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

2. Who starts at quarterback in Week 1?

LTJ: Time to get this question out of the way before we end this. Who starts under center for the Jets come Week 1 of the regular season?

CL: Since the Jets are going in a different direction rather than going with the competitive rebuild or retooling, I personally want to see Christian Hackenberg or Bryce Petty start on the Jets. Some may have a split decision on that because they look at last season as it wasn’t enough time to properly evaluate Petty.

There’s also a lot of the fan base who want to see Hackenberg start because he has yet to get his chance and last season was considered a red shirt. This offense will be different compared to when former offensive coordinator Chan Gailey ran it as I’m interested to see how Morton works with the starting strengths of each quarterback.

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My personal hope is that Hackenberg and Petty do well during training camp/preseason. To me, it makes no sense for the Jets to start a 38-year-old when they are rebuilding.

However, when it’s all said and done and of course I hope I’m wrong, I believe head coach Todd Bowles will go with McCown as his Week 1 starter.

LTJ: Ugh, I agree with you and yeah, something tells me McCown is going to do just enough to earn the praise of the coaching staff, especially Bowles. Let’s face it, he’s a game manager, veteran, and will probably breeze through training camp easily while Petty/Hackenberg struggle. If anything, maybe the Jets will start McCown, see how he does, and if he messes up, which I’m confident he will, it’ll pave the way for the next man up with will have to be one of the young gunslingers.

I personally want Petty to start but at the end of the day, Bowles wants to win football games, not worry about developing other quarterbacks in games that actually matter to start the season when he has an experienced one that isn’t the best but can get by thanks to his experience. It’s unfortunate but we shall see how it all unfolds.

I also agree with you that it’ll probably be McCown that starts in Week 1 even though I’d rather go with Petty. Alright, Christa, the last question of our sit down ends with you! Fire away!

Next: 1. Biggest rookie impact in 2017?

ORLANDO, FL – DECEMBER 03: Jordan Leggett #16 of the Clemson Tigers scores a touchdown during the ACC Championship against the Virginia Tech Hokies on December 3, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL – DECEMBER 03: Jordan Leggett #16 of the Clemson Tigers scores a touchdown during the ACC Championship against the Virginia Tech Hokies on December 3, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

1. Biggest rookie impact in 2017?

CL: Besides the first three players the Jets drafted in the 2017 draft, who do you believe will make the most impact this season and why?

LTJ: Excellent question, Christa! If if I had to pick just one, that’s an easy answer for me as I’m going with tight end Jordan Leggett out of Clemson. As we all know, the Jets didn’t know how to defend against or even use tight ends last season. Leggett comes into a golden situation with the Jets as they need talent at tight end and he’s a natural born playmaker that should make his name known immediately in 2017.

With tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins suspended for the first two games of the regular season, I expect Leggett to step in and deliver right off the bat. As the season progresses, Leggett should continue to get first downs and dare I say, actually score touchdowns from the position which is something I haven’t seen in years on the Jets. What about you, Christa? Who is your pick outside of the first three?

Must Read: Top 5 reasons ArDarius Stewart will shine in 2017

CL: Awesome! Great answer! I could definitely see that! He will have a great opportunity to fill in until ASJ is back from his suspension. I’m actually going to go a different direction and choose Dylan Donahue. I believe Donahue ‘s high motor will help him push for more playing time. The Jets need more speed at outside linebacker.

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