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Jets Camp Observations: What Do We Know?

Young Core Starting to Take Shape, Position Battles Abound


After four practices, the Jets were off Wednesday. They'll get back to work with an open session Thursday followed by a closed workout Friday and the week will end with Saturday's annual Green & White practice at MetLife Stadium. With this quick breather at hand, let's look at how things have started this summer…

Good VibesThe Jets are a green team who underwent a major facelift in the offseason. Just *four *players on their 90-man roster are over the age 30. This is a youthful group who seems to enjoy each other, but practices have been competitive and edgy at times. After a spring which featured a number of team-building activities to foster chemistry, this is the land of opportunity.

"I think the best thing is the energy has been great with the guys, and it's a fun, team environment," said 38-year-old QB Josh McCown. "It's fun on both sides of the ball. Guys are really getting after it, and more than anything, I think pushing one another to get the best out of each other and that's been just encouraging and fun to be a part of."

Young CoreGM Mike Maccagnan wants to build a young core that will be competitive for the postseason on a yearly basis. Rookie S Jamal Adams (21), second-year ILB Darron Lee (22), third-year DL Leonard Williams (23) and rookie S Marcus Maye (24) are four players under 25 on defense who should be key contributors for years to come. Already a Pro Bowler, Williams is embracing a leadership role. Lee came to camp in great shape and feels much more comfortable the second time around in this system while Adams and May both possess the "it" factor.

"We have a tremendous opportunity. We're back there together just trying to run around and make as many plays as possible," Adams said. "At the same time, we're being coachable, listening to our coaches and listening to the vets. We're just making checks and running around and having fun. This is what we love to do. Again, there's nothing like the game of football."

No First Team QBTodd Bowles set the tone early, saying there was no first team quarterback on the fourth day of training camp. The rep progression each day has been Josh McCown followed by Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty.

"I mean I feel great. I understand the stuff that I worked on and seeing results and understand it's a progression," Hackenberg said. "There's going to be ups, there's going to be downs but (I'm) just trying to stay in a constant wave and staying in that zone, be able to bounce back and get back into that."

McCown is a steady veteran hand who is comfortable with John Morton's system and eager to help the young passers with the verbiage.

"It's kind of like learning a new language, and there's degrees of that because you're learning words that have meanings to different things that maybe were different than what they meant last year for you," he said. "To have a play call that's 10, 12 words, or however many syllables, and you sit there going, 'Man, I want to rattle that out smoothly,' where the guys in the huddle believe in what we're talking about. To say it confidently takes a lot of work."

Best Photos from Day 4 of Training Camp at 1 Jets Drive

Donahue Getting a LookDuring the first two days of pads, rookie OLB Dylan Donahue worked with the first unit across from Jordan Jenkins. Donahue, a former roofer who played at Palomar Community College, racked up 25.5 sacks in two seasons at West Georgia and possesses an impressive motor.

Fresh Start for ClaiborneMorris Claiborne, still just 27 after five seasons in Dallas, wants to be able to shut down one side of the field for his defense. The 5'11", 192-pound Claiborne, who had a pair of thefts on the first day of camp, is an aggressive player who is especially noticeable in press situations. He will make a significant impact in this revamped secondary if he can stay healthy.

Wide Open at Wide ReceiverWith Austin Seferian-Jenkins down 33 pounds and a frequent target of the quarterbacks, the Jets should have a bona fide receiving threat at tight end for the first time in years. Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson, who had 58 and 42 receptions respectively last season, should get a lot of passes thrown their way as the team transitions to life in a system that employs West Coast concepts. But new coordinator John Morton is not playing favorites, consistently mixing up personnel at wide receiver to see who can do what. Rookie wideouts ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen are participating in team drills and slowly seeing their workloads increase. Third-year pro Chris Harper has made his mark early and would like to sustain that momentum. Waiver claim Lucky Whitehead, who could be a gadget threat on offense and is in the return mix, has started to make a few plays. There are 13 wideouts on the roster and it will be interesting to see who separates down the line.

Potential Game ChangersBilal Powell, who flourished down the stretch last season, is quietly back to his old tricks. He hasn't gotten a ton of touches in team, but Powell has been explosive in the run game and he's been fun to watch in 1-on-1 drills. As a receiver, Powell gives Morton a ton of options. On the other side of the ball, Bowles said DL Sheldon Richardson is in a "peaceful place" and he's inspiring a lot of his teammates. This Jets defense has a lot of quality parts and Richardson is one of them who could be poised for a big season.

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