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7 Who Could Be Roster Surprises

Posted Aug 9, 2014

LB A.J. Edds Leads Parade of Young Players Who'll Vie for Spots on the Jets' Final 53

This is the time of year not only for firming up your starters and getting your units in sync for the season ahead, but also for filling the bottom of the roster with players who may have begun the summer as camp fodder but who have transitioned themselves into NFL special teamers and position players-to-be.

Here is a list of seven Jets who have a chance to be roster surprises — surviving the Aug. 30 final cutdown and finding a place on a 53-man roster, ours or someone else's, in time for opening day. For the purposes of this list, we'll leave out the 12 draft choices and the more veteran free agents and focus on those younger FAs who arrived quietly, either as reserve/future signees or waiver pickups after the '12 or '13 season or as undrafted free agents/invited tryouts after the May draft.

1. LB A.J. Edds

Edds has been around for a while — he was drafted by the Dolphins in 2010 and played 11 games for the Patriots and Colts in '11 — but hasn't played in the regular season the past two years and was signed by the Jets only after attending the May rookie minicamp as a tryout player.

Against his old team Thursday, he served as a game captain and then went out and supported that title with one of the best games by a Jets defender. He came on in the first half, injured a finger, but returned for extended play in the second half, logging a team-high 50 plays and a team-leading seven tackles and pouncing on IK Enemkpali's strip sack with 49 seconds to play that iced the 13-10 victory. And oh, by the way, that was our first recovery of an opponent's fumble since Game 5 of last season at Atlanta.

"That's news to me," Edds (pronounced EADS) told me after the game about ending the fumble drought. "But from a young age, the more you're around the ball, the more good things happen. That's exactly what it was. I saw IK get his hand on it and strip it out. That's something we practice, and it was great to see a young guy get in there and have some success and help us seal the game."

Edds was upbeat not just about his showing but also for the defense he would like to be a part of this season.

"I think it was indicative of a lot of first games of the season — rusty early, probably played my best football in the later parts of the game, definitely made mistakes, definitely have a lot of room to grow and improve," he said. "But I think I did a pretty good job with setting a standard to build on. And we've got something to work with here, not just me but as a whole team, a defense, a special teams unit. If we can take this and get better every day, every week, I think we've got a chance to be really special."

2. DT T.J. Barnes

Barnes may have shed some of his program-weight 364 pounds, which may have shifted him from his pure NT role to more of a hybrid NT-DT spot (he's listed as Sheldon Richardson's backup). Either way, Barnes continued to show giddyup during line drills at today's return-to-Cortland practice after ripping around a corner to post a third-quarter sack of Colts backup Chandler Harnish.

3. DL Kerry Hyder

Hyder had impressive production vs. the Colts: three tackles, including one for no gain and a third-down stop, on 14 defensive snaps. As Rex Ryan said recently: "Kerry has popped from out of nowhere. He's a bad-bodied D-lineman but he makes plays, so I think he's been a pleasant surprise."

4. S Rontez Miles

Rex also singled out Miles and LB Troy Davis as players who have a shot at a roster spot due to their special teams drive. Miles, who got in for 15 special teams plays vs. New Orleans last year, got a sack off a safety blitz in the Green & White practice and added a tackle on kickoff coverage vs. Indy.

5. T Ben Ijalana

Who will provide the tackle depth for D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Breno Giacomini? It could be Oday Aboushi, but he's been working at guard all offseason and preseason. But Ijalana is another ex-Colts draft pick who's got the size (6'4", 322), was on the Jets' active roster all last year (but got no regular-season reps) and got an extended look Thursday against his old team (47 total plays).

6A and B. CBs Johnny Patrick and Jeremy Reeves

Patrick sat out the Colts game with a hamstring but returned to practice today. "It was good to get him back out there," Ryan said. "He's a guy I've been impressed with." So is Reeves, who had an interception at a recent practice. One could find a way onto the roster and into some DB-heavy game plans if he can, as Edds said, "grow and improve" in the last three weeks of the preseason.




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