These three NY Jets players were the ultimate standouts from this year’s training camp.
NY Jets training camp is officially over. It feels like it came and went in the blink of an eye — mostly because it really did.
August has flown by, the offseason is nearing its conclusion, and we are just about a week away from the start of the 2020 regular season. It still doesn’t feel real, but come roster cut day on Saturday, it’ll probably begin to set in.
That’s right, the Jets will need to cut down the roster that currently consists of 80 players to the final 53 in around 24 hours time. And as with every year, there will be some incredibly difficult decisions to make.
Training camp was the team’s only tool this year to determine which players will and won’t make the roster. In the absence of minicamp, OTAs, and the preseason, every training camp rep mattered more than ever before.
That’s not only true for the roster bubble players either. Pretty much every player entered camp with something to prove and when the dust settled, no one proved more than the three guys we’re going to talk about today.
A large number of Jets players shined in training camp this season — far too many to list in one slideshow alone. However, we’re going to examine the three top stars of the Jets’ 2020 training camp.
Who shined the brightest? Let’s take a look.
Next: 3. Blessuan Austin
3. Blessuan Austin, CB, NY Jets
The Jets entered training camp with somewhat of a battle for the No. 2 cornerback role opposite offseason addition Pierre Desir. The likes of Blessaun Austin, Quincy Wilson, Arthur Maulet, Nate Hairston, and Bryce Hall were all expected to compete for a starting role on defense.
But before long, it quickly became apparent who the rightful owner of that job really was.
Austin wasted little time making his presence felt flashing his abilities from the very first practice of camp. With Desir sidelined for essentially all of the summer, the second-year cornerback stepped into the No. 1 role over the past few weeks.
And he flourished in it.
Wilson had himself a very solid summer as well and seems to have secured a roster spot. Maulet had his moments as well, but this really wasn’t a competition.
After being benched at the end of last season, it was uncertain how Austin would respond the next time he stepped on to the gridiron. But instead of sulking, he displayed even more of his typical confidence both on and off the field.
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Austin walks around with a sense of confidence that sometimes borders on cockiness. But he more than backed it up on the field in camp and it’s easy to say that it’s his confidence that allowed him to find the success he did.
The next step is translating his 2019 success and his strong showing in training camp to the regular season. And with as much confidence as he has, that shouldn’t be much of a concern.
Next: 2. Chris Herndon
2. Chris Herndon, TE, NY Jets
Chris Herndon went into training camp with more to prove than almost any other player on the roster. After a standout rookie season, Herndon missed essentially all of 2019 while dealing with a suspension and two different injuries.
A player who many touted as a breakout star in his sophomore NFL season quickly fell by the wayside. But the Jets were well aware of just how important he was to the offense in his rookie season.
Herndon is ready to make up for lost time and his performance in training camp has people very excited for what’s to come.
The former Miami star wasted little time rediscovering the chemistry he had established with Sam Darnold two years ago with the two connecting on numerous passes each practice.
For whatever reason, Darnold and Herndon seem to have innate chemistry with one another — something that’s especially apparent when a play breaks down, and the two are forced to improvise.
They’re almost always on the same page and that was particularly evident this summer.
Herndon quickly re-established himself as Darnold’s go-to target and with the major question mark that is the wide receiver position, expect Herndon to see plenty of targets this season.
Provided he stays healthy, look for 2020 to be the sophomore breakout that Herndon never had.
Next: 1. Marcus Maye
1. Marcus Maye, S, NY Jets
Austin and Herndon both had incredible summers. But when all was said and done, one individual emerged as perhaps the team’s best overall player of training camp.
And that player was Marcus Maye.
When the Jets traded Jamal Adams this summer, questions immediately arose about how the team could replace an All-Pro talent like him. Many expected newly-acquired veteran Bradley McDougald to step in and play the “Jamal Adams role” in Gregg Williams’ defense.
But the Jets had other plans involving a different safety.
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It wasn’t McDougald or even third-round rookie Ashtyn Davis. Instead, it was the incumbent Marcus Maye who was chosen as Adams’ pseudo-replacement. And it’s truly unbelievable how comfortable he’s looked in that role.
Rather than his typical center-field role that required him to play 20-30 yards off the line of scrimmage, the Jets asked Maye to play everything from box safety to off-ball linebacker to even edge rusher at times.
And no matter what was asked of him, he excelled.
Maye shined in zone coverage, man coverage, as a roving linebacker, and even as a pass-rusher. And in doing so, he established himself — as Connor Hughes of The Athletic puts it — as “undeniably the best player on either side of the ball.”
If he can stay healthy, there’s no reason why Maye can’t elevate his play to Pro Bowl status by the end of the year.
And for that reason, no player shined quite as bright as Marcus Maye in this year’s training camp.