Training camp is finally here as the New York Jets are preparing for the season ahead. Here’s a look at who could be their rising star, breakout player, rebound player, and more.
Do you smell that in the air? That’s right ladies and gentlemen, football is just around the corner. Training camp has officially begun for every team across the NFL as it’s a glorious feeling to have as everyone is undefeated and preparing for what awaits during the regular season. The New York Jets are undoubtedly a team on the rise.
Having back-to-back losing seasons will do that for a team. The Jets had a plethora of salary cap money to work with over the past few years in free agency and have slowly but surely been building a contender for the future. Throw in two straight NFL Drafts to bolster the roster with young and potential future superstars and everything has the makings of a serious run sooner rather than later.
For now, expectations must be low since these Jets have a lot to prove over the next few months. Can they finally have a young and promising quarterback under center ready to push the envelope on offense? Will their pass rush be something worth mentioning this upcoming season? Which young players will step up and deliver a memorable season?
Here’s a look at some players on the Jets roster who could be the talk of the league in 2018 while doing their best to win a lot of football games for the franchise.
It’s no secret that if one had to pick the biggest rising star on the Jets, it’s easily safety Jamal Adams. Not only did he have a solid rookie season in 2017, he has turned into a locker room leader faster than a New York minute. Adams brings a lot to the table and has yet to reach his potential which is a scary thing to think about.
Last year, Adams totaled 63 tackles, two sacks, and six passes defended. Despite failing to get his first ever interception in the pros, he came very close on numerous occasions. Ideally, Adams is a cornerstone on defense and will be an integral part of having the Jets secondary be a major strength of the team.
Adams is a rising star as he enters his second season with the Jets and has a year’s worth of pro experience under his belt as he started all 16 games in 2017. If Adams can start turning those close interceptions into real ones, he will be a force to reckon with.
It’s been a very long time since the Jets defense has scored a touchdown on an interception but if it’s anyone that can do it, look no further than Adams. He’s a rising star that will only get better over time.
Next: Breakout Player
There’s something that has been brewing at One Jets Drive this offseason and a lot of it has to do with wide receiver Chad Hansen. As he enters his sophomore season with the Jets, he’s been the talk of organized team activities and mandatory minicamp.
While Hansen didn’t do much last season with the Jets, he has amped up his craft this offseason and looked sharp over the past few months. His route-running looks improved and he likely has a much different mindset this time around.
Hansen was catching almost everything coming his way and apparently, was an exciting scene to witness him hauling in passes thrown by rookie quarterback Sam Darnold. Could this be one of the next new dynamic duos in the league?
With a crowded and uncertain situation at wide receiver in 2018, there is a very good chance that Hansen has a breakout season due to the potential of more reps coming his way. If Robby Anderson is suspended to start the season and Quincy Enunwa is limited due to coming off a severe neck injury, Hansen will step up and deliver when the team needs it. Expect to see him be the next big name on offense.
Next: Comeback Player
When the Jets drafted tight end Jordan Leggett in the 5th Round of the 2017 NFL Draft, he came in with a lot of hope to be a productive offensive player. In his final year of college at Clemson, Leggett totaled 736 receiving yards, seven touchdowns, and was known to make a play the moment the football was in his hands.
The Jets were hoping to get such production but unfortunately last year, Leggett suffered a severe knee injury that made him miss the whole season. Leggett has been rehabbing ever since and is entering a golden situation at tight end.
With Austin Seferian-Jenkins bolting via free agency to the Jacksonville Jaguars, it leaves a big void in the positional group that needs to be filled. There will be an open competition at tight end as this positional battle will ultimately come down between Leggett and newly drafted Chris Herndon.
Herndon is already starting off on the wrong foot as this offseason, he was arrested for DUI. While Herndon is expected to participate and be a part of training camp, Leggett has been preparing for this moment over the past year or so. If Leggett can remain healthy, he will be a solid contributor on offense making him the comeback player of the year.
Next: Do Not Forget About This Player
Do Not Forget About This Player
With all eyes set on cornerback Trumaine Johnson due to him being the top free agent acquisition of the Jets this offseason, a lot are forgetting about another cornerback in the mix. Cornerback Morris Claiborne performed very well on defense.
Last year, Claiborne totaled 34 tackles, eight passes defended, and one interception. He started 15 games for the Jets and earned another one-year deal with the franchise this offseason. Claiborne will also be a big part of the Jets defensive secondary as they have the talent to be an elite unit in 2018.
Claiborne will also serve as a quality mentor to all the young players around him due to his experience. As always with Claiborne which has been evident throughout his entire career, it’s all about being healthy for him to achieve consistent success.
Don’t forget about Claiborne and everything he brings to the table. Johnson can’t do it alone as the two could be quite the defensive tandem that won’t let opposing receivers do much of anything on their watch.
Next: Rebound Player
As Leonard Williams enters the final year of his contract, it’s all or nothing for him in 2018. Last year he regressed mostly due to a lingering wrist injury and the fact that he was double teamed like there was no tomorrow.
The Jets are hoping that he turns things around since the potential is there for him to be one incredible defensive end. Due to his lackluster season last year, expect to see Williams be the top player that rebounds on the Jets.
Williams is healthy and likely worked on several new techniques to hone his craft to be ready for anything that awaits, even if it’s dealing with two opposing players at the same time. Considering that Williams is effectively playing for his future with the Jets, it should motivate him to do everything and anything to be the best defensive end he can be.
If Williams can stay healthy and a particular dark horse player alleviates some of the double teams he would normally get, he should be back in the spotlight in no time. Best of all, he’s due for a breakout season after having three full years of experience in the pros. Expect to see him rebound nicely and be part of the overall identity on defense.
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Next: Dark Horse
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Who doesn’t love a dark horse during training camp that surprises the team, fans, and the media? Such is the case for defensive end Nathan Shepherd. In his collegiate career at Fort Hays, Shepherd was known for a nonstop motor and for always being an overachiever.
In three years at Fort Hays, he totaled 168 tackles and 10 sacks. He has experience at both defensive tackle and defensive end which bodes well for his chances to make an impact from anywhere on the defensive line.
Jets fans can count on Shepherd to be the dark horse of training camp to not only shine in everything he’s supposed to execute on but be a partner in crime alongside Williams. With these two players on the field, there is no telling how dominant they can be if everything falls into place.
At 6’4 and 315 pounds, Sheperd will surprise many this offseason. If he can develop into a quality defensive end over the next few months, everyone around him will shine due to him being an impact player. Especially Williams who needs the support to once again thrive on defense.
Next: Most Underrated
Safety Marcus Maye does not get all the attention that Adams gets but make no mistake about it, he’s easily the most underrated player on the Jets. Not only does Maye stay quiet in the grand scheme of things but he lets his actions on the field speak for him.
In his rookie season last year, Maye totaled 56 tackles, one forced fumble, and two interceptions. Maye is excellent when it comes to his coverage skills and is building something incredible with Adams alongside him.
Expect to see Maye continue where he left off from last season and continue heading in the right path. Maye is all about consistency, execution, and making sure his teammates around him shine. He’s everything the Jets could ask for in a safety and then some as he’s all about the game.
Maye will be yet another cornerstone player for the Jets that should be well on his way to being a great safety for the franchise. Since the league is all about passing, the Jets were smart to select back-to-back safeties in the 2017 NFL Draft to ensure they’re competitive on defensive. Adams might get a lot of credit but it’s Maye who does a lot of the underrated dirty work.