The Jets finally play in their home preseason opener tonight against the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium. And in keeping with the occasion, the Green & White have another big first.
The Jets will wear their new Gotham Green jerseys for the first time this summer after unveiling the new unis at their New York City gala in early April. They will also be wearing their Spotlight White pants, which they unveiled the previous two road games with their new white jerseys and newly designed numerals.
Another first was expected for the home side but it may not be: Ryan Kalil, who appeared headed to making his first game appearance as a Jet, is on the team's Not Expected to Dress list. Kalil, who came out of retirement early this month after playing 13 top-notch seasons for Carolina, hadn't played in a game yet but was increasing his first-team reps through Sunday's Green & White practice and practices this week.
"I know Adam has mentioned that Ryan was going to play tonight," Jets GM Joe Douglas said tonight. "After further discussion with Adam, Ryan and Frank, we thought the best thing for him and the team tonight will be to hold him out of the game tonight. As you guys know, Sunday night was his first night in pads, so he's really only had three days of practice. We thought the smart thing to do is to hold him out. We'll reevaluate it next week.
"We're 15 days away from the opener, so we feel good he's going to have plenty of time to be ready for Week 1. One of the reasons we feel good about that: Not only is Ryan in a good place but Jonotthan Harrison has had an amazing camp. His professionalism, his athleticism, his strength, he's been a stud throughout this entire camp. That's one of the main reasons we feel good about what we're doing tonight."
Also, there has been no change in the status of RB Le'Veon Bell. Although he warmed up pregame as usual, he is also listed as expected as one of 11 Jets not dressing for the game. Head coach Adam Gase said during the week that Bell will not play this preseason but will make his Jets debut in the season opener Sept. 8 at MetLife vs. the Buffalo Bills.
The Jets' full Will Not Dress List:
- WR Jeff Smith
- CB Trumaine Johnson
- RB Le'Veon Bell
- CB Kyron Brown
- LB Jamey Mosley
- LB Brandon Copeland
- C Ryan Kalil
- G Brian Winters
- G Kelechi Osemele
- OL Brent Qvale
- WR Quincy Adeboyejo
The teams are 4-4 in their preseason series, although they haven't met in the summer since 2004. The Jets lost their last two games in the series in '03 and '04, with their last win coming in the Meadowlands in the 2000 preseason opener. In that game, Jets legend WR Wayne Chrebet caught four passes for 118 yards and a touchdown and then-rookie DE John Abraham, notched the first sack of his pro career when he took down the Saints' Jake Delhomme in the second quarter.
The referee for tonight's game is Brad Allen.
See Top Photos from Pregame Before the Third Game of the Preseason
Darnold vs. Brees
It's hard to say how this game will unfold. Drew Brees, the Saints' superb quarterback, is expected to appear for the first time this preseason in his 19th pro season and 14th year in New Orleans black and old gold.
Brees, in keeping with his recent preseason schedule, likely will not play again until the regular season, after playing 44 snaps in two games the previous two preseasons combined. Coming off his NFL-record 74.4% completion rate last regular season, one would expect him to complete some balls tonight, especially against the Jets secondary seeking the right combination at cornerback with Trumaine Johnson still ailing.
Sam Darnold hasn't reached Brees' heights yet but he's working on it. Darnold is expected to get his most action this preseason after working the opening drive at the Giants and the first three drives at Atlanta. In those opportunities, he's been sharp — completing 75% of his passes, throwing no INTs and getting sacked once, all to the tune of a 131.9 passer rating. Additionally, he's 2-for-2 in both red zone opportunities and opening-drive TDs.
Will the Saints protect Brees and turn to the run? Why wouldn't they? Their rush offense, led by QB Taysom Hill (8.9 yards/carry) and Dwayne Washington (5.1) is third in the NFL this preseason in rush yards/game (152.0) and fifth in yards/carry (4.90).
But the Jets defense could have the answer to forcing Brees to throw some, since, led by LB Frankie Luvu, LB Neville Hewitt and S Jamal Adams, have held their two opponents to 63.5 rush yards/game and 2.76 yards/carry, third and second in the league respectively this summer.
Goose Gets a Block
Jets DL Henry Anderson will be starting again with the Jets D-line rotation, and presumably we'll see him get a few plays on special teams, where he continued his recent reign of terror against opposing placekickers.
Anderson got good penetration and a big hand up against Giorgio Tavecchio's 52-yard field goal in the first quarter against Atlanta last week. No block was credited to Anderson at the time but after Elias Sports Bureau's review, "Goose" got credit late this week for a block by perhaps getting a thumb on Tavecchio's kick.
In all games, preseason and regular season, that was Anderson's third block in the last seven games, or since Game 12 at Tennessee last year. It was also the Jets' first blocked FG in a preseason game since Jarron Gilbert rejected a Rhys Lloyd 42-yarder at the Giants in 2011.
One final note: The Jets since 2012 have had three blocked placements in all games. All three were supplied by Anderson in the last seven games.