The New York Jets capped off the preseason with a 10-9 Week 4 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Which players made the most significant final impressions and which players failed to capitalize on their last opportunity?
The New York Jets ended the preseason not with a bang, but with a whimper.
The team’s final of four preseason games was a slow, sluggish affair not unlike the majority of preseason Week 4 matchups. With the starters firmly entrenched on the sidelines, the reserves were given the opportunity to prove their worth and make one final case for a spot on the 53-man roster.
For some players, this game served as an audition tape for the Jets or any other squad that may be interested in their services now or in the future. For others, the contest was simply a warm-up for the regular season as their roster spots were already secured.
Either way, the game certainly didn’t provide much in the way of enthusiasm.
Highlights included a long 58-yard field goal from the recently acquired Jason Myers and the, let’s call it subpar, play of former Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg who proved that draft pedigree and physical talent will keep you relevant long after it’s determined that you, in fact, can’t play football all too well.
A kicker and a fifth-string quarterback providing the peak of excitement for a game?
Sounds like Week 4 of the preseason to me.
The following slides will detail which players made their mark with their final tryout and which players let the opportunity slip through their grasp.
Offensive Players Stock Up
Clive Walford: Walford made his case to make the final roster with a strong performance in Week 4. The former Oakland Raider hauled in three catches for a team-leading 40 yards including a tough 20-yard snag in traffic that ultimately set up a Jason Myers 43-yard field goal.
Walford entered Thursday’s game desperately in need of a solid showing as one of five Jets tight ends entwined in an ultra-competitive tight end battle. He did just that putting up his best numbers of the preseason just one week before the start of the regular season.
The Jets will likely keep either three or four tight ends (depending on whether or not they keep a fullback) and Walford may have just solidified his roster status after this strong outing. The former third-round pick is a capable blocker and a reliable receiver who could see significant playing time if he makes the roster.
He couldn’t have asked for a better final impression than what he put together in this game.
Jason Myers: Despite being claimed off waivers by the team less than two weeks ago, it appears that Myers has all but locked up the kicking job.
The Jets brought in Myers to compete with the undrafted Taylor Bertolet after releasing veteran Cairo Santos. Clearly, the Jets didn’t see enough out of Bertolet and opted to bring in the big-legged Myers to compete for the starting gig.
Myers used his powerful boot to nail a 58-yard field goal on Thursday, a kick that would have been a Jets record had it occurred in the regular season.
With Myers having the edge in NFL experience and having shown no signs of slipping up, it’s safe to assume that the former Jacksonville kicker should have secured a spot as the team’s kicker.
Next: Offensive Players Stock Down
Offensive Players Stock Down
Trenton Cannon: There’s still a good chance that Cannon makes the final 53-man roster, but he certainly hasn’t done himself any favors the last couple weeks. Cannon initially exploded (mind the pun) on to the scene with a stellar training camp but ball security concerns and an overall lack of NFL readiness has the hype train grinding to a screeching halt.
Still a very raw player, Cannon dropped two different passes in this game showing that he may demonstrate bursts of explosiveness, but he is far from a finished product. The Virginia State product also tends to run high when carrying the ball which could be the source of some of his struggles with holding on to the football.
A little more concerning, however, is that the team opted to have him share snaps at returner with both George Atkinson III and Tre McBride who each saw time as a punt returner. Cannon was expected to be a major factor on special teams this season and his struggles as a return man may ultimately see the Jets shy away from putting him there.
More from The Jet Press
- NY Jets: Why the team should target cornerback Shaquill Griffin
- NY Jets reportedly non-tendering linebacker Harvey Langi
- NY Jets: Why the team should not cut Jamison Crowder
- NY Jets should try to sign Kenny Golladay in free agency
- NY Jets: Jonnu Smith would be a smart free-agent target
With Andre Roberts having seemingly locked up the return man job, Cannon’s role on the team is a little undefined at the moment. A spot on the practice squad shouldn’t be completely out of the question anymore, something that would’ve been relatively unfathomable a few weeks ago.
Tre McBride: After a hot start to training camp and the preseason, McBride has simmered down quite significantly. He continued this trend with another quiet day in the stat sheet logging just one catch for nine yards.
Still, if roster spots were based on merit alone, McBride would without a doubt make the squad. But the former seventh-round pick needed a strong final performance to solidify his roster spot and make it impossible to cut him. Instead, he sort of faded into the background, something someone in his spot could ill-afford to do.
With the receiver room crowded with many former Jets draft picks, McBride needed to keep up his solid play to give him an edge over his counterparts. Unfortunately for the former Chicago Bear, his early success might not be enough to keep him around.
Charles Johnson: Johnson was a longshot to make the roster regardless of his performance on Thursday but he essentially sealed his own fate with an ill-fated drop on the team’s opening possession. The big, physical receiver let a third-down pass from Josh McCown bounce right off his hands on a beautifully thrown deep ball from the elder statesman of the team.
Johnson brings a great combination of size and speed to his game and had flashed at times this summer but as a roster bubble player, you cannot afford to make blatant mistakes like this one. Especially as a receiver, each target is so significant because you might only get one or two per game.
Unfortunately for Johnson, his grave mistake likely cost him any shot he had of making the final 53-man roster.
Jordan Leggett: It was another invisible night for Leggett who did manage to haul in one reception for 18 yards but outside of that did little to nothing. The former Clemson tight end has had a challenging NFL career thus far battling injuries but has failed to do much of anything when given the opportunity.
Leggett has arguably been outplayed by the Jets other four tight ends and finds himself on the roster bubble despite entering training camp as the favorite to win the starting job. With Eric Tomlinson and Neal Sterling both out nursing injuries, Leggett was given plenty of snaps to prove his worth but he couldn’t make the most of his opportunity.
To make matters worse, his night was capped off with an apparent injury that occurred on the second-to-last play of the game where he attempted to make a leaping catch over the middle of the field. While he may have just gotten the wind knocked out of him, it’s concerning nevertheless as injuries have defined Leggett’s NFL career to this point and it would be heartbreaking to see him miss any more time.
Not to mention the negative impact it would have on his roster status with the team.
Next: Defensive Players Stock Up
Defensive Players Stock Up
Henry Anderon: Anderson quietly put together another solid game showing great penetration as he received some reps with the reserves. The former Indianapolis Colt has been primarily used by the Jets on passing downs spelling rookie Nathan Shepherd as a third-down pass rusher but he got the opportunity to start in this game and did not disappoint.
Anderson was able to shed blocks and defend the run very well showing his versatility as both an interior pass rusher and as a run stuffer. The Stanford product figures to be a key part of the Jets defensive line rotation in 2018 and more performances like this one will help him earn more snaps come the regular season.
Neville Hewitt: Hewitt has been one of the team’s standouts from the preseason and his string of great performances continued Thursday night when he once again led the team in tackles, this time tallying seven on the day.
The former Miami Dolphin has a strong reputation as a special teamer but has really impressed on the defensive side of the ball over the last four weeks. Hewitt has been a tackling machine showing good run fill and ultimately holding his own in pass coverage as well.
Hewitt entered the preseason as a roster bubble guy on the outside looking in but it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him survive final roster cuts after his stellar showing this preseason.
If anything, his special teams prowess should help to give him the edge over other players competing for one of the final roster spots.
Derrick Jones: Derrick “Bones” Jones has been one of the pleasant surprises of the summer and he continued his recent streak of good play with another solid outing on Thursday.
The former sixth-round pick was first highlighted after he scored a pass deflection breaking up a deep ball in one-on-one coverage in the first quarter. The ball was intended for veteran Markus Wheaton who had an initial step on Jones before the converted wide-receiver closed the gap in time to make a play on the ball.
His second noteworthy play came late in the fourth quarter when he intercepted quarterback Joe Callahan in the end zone to force a turnover at a key time in the game. The ball was significantly underthrown and likely should have never been thrown in the first place, but Jones made sure to capitalize on Callahan’s mistake and come away with the interception.
Jones should have locked down a roster spot with this performance and he is one injury away from seeing significant playing time in the regular season. It should be interesting to watch his development and continue to see him grow more comfortable with the position as the year goes on.
Parry Nickerson: After missing the first three preseason games to a nagging hamstring injury, Nickerson was finally able to make his NFL preseason debut in the last week before the regular season and he did so in successful fashion.
The 2018 6th-round pick entered training camp with a lot of hype surrounding him and after a solid showing in camp, there were some calling for him to get significant playing time early in his career. This is why it was so disappointing to see him miss so much time so early in his NFL journey.
That being said, his introduction to the Jets in-game was a welcoming sign. Nickerson played very well in coverage all game long and was able to show off his elite speed on a nickel blitz where he was able to get to the quarterback and sack him in the blink of an eye.
The Tulane product has blazing speed and possesses very good ball skills which should serve him well in the NFL. There are some that are already touting him as the heir-apparent to Buster Skrine in the slot and while it may be too early to make any thorough declarations, Nickerson has looked the part so far.
It will be interesting to see how much playing time he gets in the regular season but it should be safe to say that he’s the first man up if Skrine were to ever go down with an injury this season.
And perhaps that could be foreshadowing what’s to come.
*Side note: There were no defensive players deemed worthy of the “stock down” label so there will be no slide covering such*