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Jets ST Reset: Brant Boyer's a Big Fan of This Year's 'Group Thing'

Braden Mann Succeeds Lachlan Edwards at Punter; Sam Ficken & Brett Maher Will Battle at Kicker

Texas A&M punter Braden Mann (34) punts the ball against Mississippi State during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)
Table inside Article
How Signed Returning Jets Newly Arrived Recently Departed
VFAs K Sam Ficken (2019) K Brett Maher (2019)
Trades LS Thomas Hennessy (2017 IND)
Draft P Braden Mann (2020 6th Rd) P Lachlan Edwards (2016 7th Rd/2020 VFA Unsigned)
1YFAs P Ian Berryman (2019 1YFA/2020 Waived)

Cornerstones and Returnees
Two members of the "kicking battery" remain. K Sam Ficken returns after coming aboard once the season started, having his ups and downs but showing signs of promise, such as with his 44-yard walk-off game-winner against Miami. He also gets his reliable long-snapper back as Thomas Hennessy has made every Jets long snap in the past three seasons.

On the return and cover teams, coordinator Brant Boyer is eager to regain the services of Trenton Cannon, "one of the top five gunners in the league, in my opinion." And he has a raft of returnees who finished the season either with extended action on offense or defense or on IR — Neville Hewitt, Vyncint Smith, Blake Cashman, Arthur Maulet, Harvey Langi, Frankie Luvu, Tarell Basham, B.J. Bello, Matthias Farley and Dan Brown.

"I'm really excited about the group of guys we didn't get to use, that I was heavily counting on," the coach said.

Comings and Goings
The big exchange was at punter: the departure of Lachlan Edwards in free agency after four seasons of setting the team's gross and net average records and the arrival of sixth-round rookie Braden Mann. How does Boyer view Mann? Let him count the ways:

"He can kick off. He Has a very strong leg. He was very good directionally. He's a very good holder. His get-off times were very good. Talking to him in the interview process, he was very sharp. ... He's got a good foot tool. I think this kid is going to come in and do a great job. I think he's going to fit in well with the room and those are the things that really impressed me about him. And he's a really good young man."

See the Jets Special Teams Unit in Images Leading Up to the 2020 Season

The Jets also provided Ficken with big-footed, experienced competition in Brett Maher, a reserve/future signee who was the Cowboys' kicker for 29 games the past two seasons and hit 49 of 66 field goals, including 10 of 15 from 50-plus.

Also added to the ST room is recently signed Patrick "Peanut" Onwuasor, who Boyer sees possibly taking over a leadership role from the departed Brandon Copeland. And Boyer sees big contributions possible from his rookies, headed by mid-round draftees Ashtyn Davis and La'Mical Perine.

Among the departed are UFA Rontez Miles, who had been on the Jets' roster since 2013 and a top tackler and special teams leader since '15.

By independent rankings, Boyer's special teams have been one of the NFL's top-10 units for two years running. And he's optimistic for a third straight season because he's hoping to get back the above-mentioned players on returns and coverage that he lost last year to offense and defense due to the rash of injuries to mix in with his known quantities, emphasis on the plural.

"I really think it's a group thing more than one or two players," he said. "I really think we should have a pretty good group, seeing how this goes with all the COVID stuff and things like that. But I'm excited about the group we have this year."