New York Jets defensive lineman Kyle Phillips has impressed this season and he should be given a big opportunity on Sunday in a starting role against the Dallas Cowboys.
The New York Jets haven’t exactly been a team overflowing with positivity through five weeks, but one reason to remain optimistic has been the surprise success of undrafted defensive lineman Kyle Phillips.
Phillips was signed by the Jets as a free agent this past summer after going undrafted out of Tennessee in the 2019 NFL Draft. Scouts viewed Phillips as a project player who had the natural talent to succeed in the NFL, but was still in need of plenty of development.
And entering training camp, there were few members of the Jets 90-man roster who were viewed as bigger longshots to make the 53-man roster coming out of the preseason.
But even despite a very deep defensive line rotation, Phillips impressed the Jets coaching staff enough that they felt he deserved a roster spot. And now just prior to Week 6, Phillips is set to make his first career NFL start.
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His progression has truly been something incredible to watch as he went from being inactive in Week 1 to receiving regular snaps as part of the defensive line rotation in just a few weeks.
Phillips has seen his snap count rise from 43 percent in Week 2 to 62 percent in Week 3 to a whopping 76 percent last week in Philadelphia. And now with an injury to starting defensive lineman Henry Anderson, Phillips will be called on to start.
His versatility is something that has been incredibly valuable to a Jets defense dealing with injuries both at edge rusher and now to their defensive line.
Both Jordan Jenkins and Brandon Copeland have been out for the majority of the season — the former dealing with an injury and the latter serving a suspension. That has left the Jets very thin at outside linebacker prompting the team to use the much-bigger Phillips on the outside.
The 277-pounder first saw snaps at outside linebacker in the Jets’ fourth preseason game and has since become a regular fixture on the outside with Jenkins and Copeland sidelined.
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams raved about Phillips on Friday calling him an “intelligent, powerful and multi-dynamic player.” With Williams’ support, Phillips should remain a key cog in the Jets front-seven for the remainder of the season.
And who knows what the future holds?
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Leonard Williams‘ contract is set to expire at the end of the season and his play hasn’t exactly warranted a new deal — despite the blessings of the coaching staff. And the Jets are far from secure at the other outside linebacker position opposite Jenkins.
Phillips has every opportunity to earn a starting role on this Jets defense down the line — whether it’s at outside linebacker or along the defensive line. And with Anderson sidelined for at least this week with a shoulder injury, look for Phillips to capitalize on his big opportunity.
Perhaps Kyle Phillips could continue that trend and be an important member of the Jets defense for years to come.