OverviewThe Jets' cornerbacks in the year after Darrelle Revis departed are a green bunch and not just from the color of their defensive jerseys in training camp. Ten players are listed as CBs to start the summer and they average a mere 2.0 NFL seasons apiece. Juston Burris, last year's fourth-rounder, is joined by rookies/first-year players Jeremy Clark, Derrick Jones, Bryson Keeton and Xavier Coleman. The experience in the group will come from Morris Claiborne, the unrestricted free agent from Dallas, and Buster Skrine, the seventh-year pro and third-year Jet who new DBs coach Dennard Wilson says "has taken on more of a leadership role, especially with the rookies we have, and they're starting to jell and create a good nucleus."
In the SpotlightMuch has been expected of Claiborne since the Cowboys made him the sixth overall pick of the 2012 draft. But he had only four interceptions and 43 starts in his five years with the 'Pokes, primarily because of his mystifying penchant for injuries. "It's just been a whole lot of things that have happened where you ask yourself where that came from," he said this offseason. "I feel like when I'm healthy I can take a whole side of the field away." Wilson and Claiborne's teammates have seen his attentiveness to detail and competitiveness already and all are hoping for a breakout campaign for the Jets' new No. 21.
Get to Know the CBs as the Green & White Approaches Training Camp
Position BattlesClaiborne's skill and experience give him a leg up on a starting job but the young corners will be going at it all summer to earn jobs in the base and the sub packages. Four players on this year's roster — Marcus Williams, Darryl Roberts, Skrine and Burris — made starts for the Jets last season and each was in for at least 185 defensive plays. They will all in turn be pushed by fourth-year man Dexter McDougle plus the "sophomores and freshmen" mentioned in the overview.
At the Front of the RoomWilson coached up the Rams' DBs the previous two seasons. Last season was particularly impressive as he molded a young group similar in makeup to this year's Jets in that franchise's first year back in Los Angeles. The Rams pass defense, although not getting as much of a sack contribution up front as the year before, still ranked in the NFL's top 10 in yards allowed for the last nine weeks of the season, finishing 10th. Of his new charges on the Jets, Wilson says, "The defensive backs are outstanding, a lot of great, hard-working young men. I come to work passionate about being around them every day."