The Jets will have a green secondary – no pun intended – against the Chargers if CB Bless Austin, who is questionable for Sunday's game against the Chargers with a neck injury, doesn't play. Excluding Austin, there are five cornerbacks on the active roster including three rookies: Bryce Hall (fifth round), Lamar Jackson and Javelin Guidry (both undrafted free agents). The other two are Arthur Maulet (fourth year) and Corey Ballentine (second year), who was claimed by the Jets on Nov. 11.
"Do we what we do, but mold it into what they can do and how they go about doing it," defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said of his approach with inexperienced players. "The really good thing here about this defensive staff is that the DB coaches, all three of them, have played for me and have been through some of this morphing of systems and morphing of technique and alignment. That's our job. They're good, young men and it's time for them to play. I've had to nurse some of them back to health and we've got them back to health. It's time to play."
Special Teams Shuffle
The Jets have a decision to make at kicker. Sam Ficken, who has missed the last three games with a groin injury, is questionable for Sunday's game against the Chargers. He connected on 9 of 10 field-goal attempts in the first six games of the season and all 6 extra points. In his place, Sergio Castillo has kicked well, converting on 6 of 7 field-goal attempts and all 4 extra points.
"Sergio has done everything we've asked him to do," special teams coordinator Brant Boyer said. "I think he's done a great job. I think Sam is our guy if he's ready to go, but we'll see what happens. We have a day or two left to make a decision. I have confidence in both guys. I have no problem putting either one of them out there, so we'll see where this takes us in the next day or two."
Boyer, who's had a top-10 unit each of the past two seasons, has not been pleased with the group's performance this season, particularly on kick returns. The Jets have had seven returners in nine games, who have averaged a combined 18.4 yards per return. Ballentine could receive work at KR and has 19 returns for 447 yards (23.5 avg).
"I think he has some talent and certainly has long speed," Boyer said. "There's a bunch of returners in the mix and we'll see who can do it the best. That's kind of where I'm at with it. They're all working their butts off, all doing a nice job and we'll see what happens."
He added: "That's been one of my biggest disappointments this entire season. Our return game, specifically kick return, hasn't been up the standards we set here and I'm not happy about it. We have to try to get better the last seven games of the season."
See the Top Images from Practice Leading Up to the Trip to Los Angeles
Herndon Filling His Role
After an impressive rookie season, a lost sophomore year and an impressive training camp, tight end Chris Herndon hasn't made the impact in the passing game a lot of fans anticipated. He has 14 receptions for 101 yards this season, but offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said that the Jets have been primarily asking Herndon to pass protect.
"I know that everyone wants to judge somebody based on their receptions and that stuff," Loggains said. "Chris can't be held accountable for that. Chris is doing the job we're asking him to do and he's doing it really well. There's a lot of things he can do in pass protection and play-action passes that a lot of other tight ends can't do. He has really good lower-body flexibility, he can recover. We ask him to block people a lot of guys can't block. We do think he's a good pass receiver as well. We haven't asked him to be in that role right now. Obviously that changes from game plan to game plan. We're happy with the way Chris Herndon has fulfilled the role we've asked him to."