With training camp just days away, here’s our breakdown of the position battles at running back for the New York Jets.
There is no question the Jets running game will be better this year with Le’Veon Bell, but there are still many questions to be answered behind the Pro-Bowler. The projected starter for the Jets is obviously Bell, but the options for a backup are endless.
As for now, it’s safe to say that Ty Montgomery and Bilal Powell will be getting the second team reps at the start of camp. Following the backups are Elijah McGuire, Trenton Cannon, De’Angelo Henderson, and Valentine Holmes.
With the departure of Isaiah Crowell, and the additions of Bell and Montgomery the Jets running back room has become a lot more interesting. At the top, Bell will get as many touches as he so chooses in camp. He took the year off cause he wanted to, and he will give and take effort in practice as he so chooses as well. That’s just the type of player he is. He can revolutionize an offense, but also be painfully disappointing with the Jets paying him this much money.
As a clear-cut starter, the only question in camp for Bell is just how much can he do for Sam Darnold. Ultimately, he could make or break the Jets young quarterback in terms of opening up the passing game through his ability to draw teams attention to the ground game.
Behind Bell is Ty Montgomery, a veteran running back, and former wide receiver entering the league. With the Packers, Montgomery made the switch from receiver and became a dependable back with tons of upside as a receiver out of the backfield as well. Similarly to Bell, I see Montgomery being the clear backup due to both of their abilities as both runners and receivers out of the running back position.
Alongside Montgomery is Bilal Powell, who has been one of the longest standing Jets on this roster. Powell’s had flashes here and there, but his fight against injuries is what continues to hurt his chances at the backup position.
The longer shots are Trenton Cannon and Elijah McGuire. I say longer only because they both are going to have a tougher time making this years roster. They both had good years last season, finding spots on the field here and there due to the long list of injuries the Jets dealt with. Was the running game good when either of them were in last season? Not particularly.
With that being said, I have a feeling Coach Gase will find roles for the two on special teams, as well as options at the third string.
Lastly, those who have no shot at the roster are Valentine Holmes and De’Angelo Henderson. Never heard their names? Don’t sweat it. Holmes is a former Australian Rugby team member, and due to the NFL’s International Pathway Program, the Jets have to keep Holmes at least on the practice squad this season. With Holmes locked in, Henderson’s got next to no shot at the 53-man. He will have to scratch and claw for a practice squad spot, and really impress the coaching staff in camp.
In the end, my biggest question concerning the Jets running backs is support. Can they find support for Bell with guys like Montgomery and Powell. How will Cannon and McGuire play a role in supporting the ground game? These are all issues that Coach Gase will have to resolve when it comes to building a ground game for the Jets. Camps right around the corner, and the good news is that we won’t have to wait long until football starts back up.