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Jets Camp Preview: Defense

Summer Practices Will Feature Cornerback Competition, Makeover at ‘Backer


2015 Highlights: After the Jets installed a new defense for the first time since 2009, Todd Bowles and Kacy Rodgers oversaw one of the stingiest units in the NFL. The Jets finished No. 4 in yards allowed while establishing a franchise mark for fewest rush yards allowed per game (83.4). Excelling in situational football, the Green & White ranked No. 1 in red zone defense (35.0%) and No. 3 in third down efficiency. The Jets established a franchise record with just four rush touchdowns allowed and they held opposing quarterbacks to a league-low 57.1% completion percentage. Their 30 takeaways also tied for third most in the league. In his first season back, Darrelle Revis collected a team-high nine takeaways. Veteran stalwart David Harris led the way in tackles again with 128 and he racked up 4.5 sacks. And Muhammad Wilkerson, who signed a multi-year extension on Friday, was selected to his first Pro Bowl after pacing the club with 12 sacks.


Usher in the New:** The Jets have dramatically altered their look at linebacker. On the inside, veteran Erin Henderson steps into a starting role alongside David Harris. Rookie Darron Lee, who was taken with the No. 20 overall selection in April's draft, will back up Henderson initially at the "Mo" position while getting some work in sub packages. A playmaker at Ohio State, Lee could help the Jets early in coverage and as a blitzer. Veteran Bruce Carter also can cover ground and he collected five interceptions with the Cowboys in 2014. While the Green & White expect a jump from second-year pro Lorenzo Mauldin on the outside, veteran Trevor Reilly will battle rookie Jordan Jenkins and CFL transplant Freddie Bishop for time across the way. Jenkins, a three-year starter for Georgia, is a quality edge-setter with heavy hands along and a renowned work ethic. While NT Damon Harrison departed in free agency, the Jets will still field one of the most talented defensive lines in football and they like the versatility and athleticism Steve McLendon and Jarvis Jenkins will provide.

On the Mend: Wilkerson is recovering from a broken right fibula. Revis underwent offseason wrist surgery, but the star corner participated in individual drills this spring and expects to be ready to go for camp.

Keep an Eye On: While Revis will remain on his Island, there is an opening across the way. Buster Skrine was solid last year at the nickel position and the strong 5'9", 185-pounder will get the first crack on the outside. The corner competition will include Dee Milliner, a talented former first-round pick who had an impressive spring, and Marcus Williams, who led the club with six interceptions last season.

Key Question: Wilkerson, whose 28.5 sacks since the start of 2013 ranks third among 3-4 defensive linemen, continues to make progress with his rehab and could start camp on the PUP list. On the field, how will this linebacking corps featuring three new starters gel in the summer?

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