While most eyes will be on the quarterback competition throughout the summer, there are two other positions that are “wide open” — kicker and kick returner.
First-year player Ross Martin and fourth-year veteran Chandler Catanzaro will duel into the preseason for the placekicking job. Martin signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent following the 2016 draft, spent training camp with the team and was released after the third preseason game. The Duke product has a strong leg as he nailed a 55-yard field goal against the Giants in the preseason.
Catanzaro also has a powerful boot. He’s one of 14 players in NFL history to successfully kick a 60-yard FG and last season was the only player with three 56-plus FGs in all games (pre, regular and postseason).
“As far as I’m concerned, I think they’ve both competed very well,” special teams coordinator Brant Boyer told the media Tuesday following the first day of OTAs. “They’ve both done a great job since they’ve been here and they’re both very comparable. Ross has really improved his kickoff leg since last year. I know how hard he’s been working. I think they’ve done a great job and the tell-all is going to be when they get in the games, just like everybody else.”
During the team’s first practice in OTAs, both kickers were perfect, with each hitting all six of his field goal attempts, including a 55-yarder.
On the other side of the spectrum, a handful of players are vying for kick-return jobs. Last year Jalin Marshall served as the Green & White’s primary returner and he’ll compete with rookies Elijah McGuire and Brisly Estime among others. When the Jets drafted McGuire in the sixth round, head coach Todd Bowles said he’d be used a returner. Estime was a dangerous return man in college and is the ACC record holder with 18.0 yards per punt return.
“I think it’s a wait-and-see approach,” Boyer said. “I know what Jalin can do out there, so I limit his reps a little bit. I obviously know he can catch a little bit and what he can do as a returner. I want to see what those young guys have and what they can do. I’ll give those young guys the majority of the reps come preseason.”