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LB Got Younger, Faster Behind David Harris

Old Veteran, Youthful Contributors Lee, Jenkins & Mauldin Should Be Jets' 'Backer Anchors in '17


Last Season Review
GM Mike Maccagnan and HC Todd Bowles continued their work to infuse the LB corps, led by longtime Jet David Harris, with talented youth. Darron Lee was drafted in the first round (20th overall) out of Ohio State and Jordan Jenkins arrived in Round 3 (83rd overall) out of Georgia.

Lee was thrown into the fire right away — he played in all games except three he missed due to injury, started eight games, logged 640 defensive snaps, and notched 76 tackles, including 10 for loss/no gain and two half-sacks. Jenkins sat out the first two games with injury, then broke in more slowly, yet still finished the season with 10 starts and 513 snaps. And he came on strong in the season's final quarter with 4.0 of his 6.0 tackles for loss/no gain, all of his 2.5 sacks, and one of only three team strip-sacks all year, which he also recovered, in the season finale vs. Buffalo.

Harris continued his outstanding 10-year Jets career with a team-leading 113 tackles — his ninth time leading the Green & White with 100-plus tackles. He once again logged major minutes in starting 15 games (he missed one game due to injury, which snapped his 121-game starts streak) and playing 899 defensive snaps and 985 including special teams, the latter the top number on defense.

Second-year OLB Lorenzo Mauldin showed improvement through the first 11 games, getting 2.5 sacks and posting 13 QB hits, second-most on the D behind Leonard Williams' 19, not to mention scoring his first pro interception on a late deflection in the win at Cleveland. But he could not make it back from a severe ankle injury for the last five games.

Top Photos of the Jets Linebackers During the 2016 Season

Two 'backers did most of their work as valued contributors to the special teams. Josh Martin led all Jets with his 342 ST plays and not coincidentally led the team with 14 tackles in kick coverage. Bruce Carter added 215 ST reps, fourth on the team and second behind Martin among front-seven players. Freddie Bishop began the season on the practice squad and finished it with an extended look, including two starts, in the last quarter of the schedule.

Physical issues hit the 'backers as they did other positions on the team. Erin Henderson, who began the year starting on the inside alongside Harris, went to the Non-Football Injury/Illness list after Game 6. Mike Catapano played in 11 games, started three, but finished on IR. So did Julian Stanford, who also had three starts on the inside.

Looking Ahead
Harris moved into No. 2 on the Jets' all-time tackles list and at 1,251 needs a mere 221 to pass No. 1 Kyle Clifton. Will he pursue it? "I'm under contract for another year, so we'll see," he said after the Bills finale. Lee and Jenkins will be back after getting that all-important offseason after their rookie years under their belts, as will Mauldin. Henderson could also return.

It will be interesting to see which among their other LBs on last year's roster the Jets seek to re-sign. Catapano and both Martin and Carter, the special teams mainstays, can be unrestricted free agents. So can Corey Lemonier, who played just one game but flashed as a rusher vs. the Bills. Frank Beltre, a teammate of Bishop's on the 2014 Grey Cup-champion Calgary Stampeders, was signed to a reserve/future contract.

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