After a buzzworthy first two weeks of training camp, the Jets kick off their 2019 preseason schedule in their brand-new "Spotlight White" jerseys and pants as the road team against the Giants at MetLife Stadium tonight.
However, as expected, big-name free-agent RB Le'Veon Bell will not be in the white unis for the festivities when the Green & White and Big Blue kick it off shortly after 7 p.m. ET.
Head coach Adam Gase, among the first-year Jets getting their first experience in the now 51-year-long preseason rivalry, said during the week, "It is a fine line with Le'Veon. He hasn't played in a year. At the same time, when's the right time? Is it this game? Is it the next one? Is it the next one? Do we just not play him this preseason? Do we go through the whole time and just give him reps? All those questions are what we keep talking about."
Gase and his staff decided tonight would not be Bell's debut in green. Also sitting out as expected is C Ryan Kalil, who came out of retirement last week to sign with the Jets. RB Bilal Powell, a veteran of the last nine Jets-Giants wars, will rest as well. And three veteran defenders — D-linemen Leonard Williams and Steve McLendon and S Marcus Maye — will also sit this one out.
Twelve Jets in all have been listed as not expected to play in tonight's game:
RB — Le'Veon Bell, Bilal Powell
WR — Jeff Smith
C — Ryan Kalil
T — Calvin Anderson
OL — Brent Qvale
DL — Leonard Williams, Steve McLendon
LB — Harvey Langi
CB — Artur Maulet, Bless Austin
S — Marcus Maye
This does mean that Sam Darnold is likely to begin his second season as the Jets' starting quarterback, playing a first-quarter series or two before handing the offensive controls over to backup QB Trevor Siemian. Among other Jets expected to see action are most of their 2019 Draft Class, led by DL Quinnen Williams, the third overall selection of the April draft.
See Top Photos from Pregame Before the Preseason Opener
The Jets-Giants rivalry is easily the longest current preseason matchup in the NFL. The teams played for the 50th straight summer last year, with the Giants pulling out the 22-16 win but not before Powell opened the scoring with a first-quarter TD run and Darnold threw a scoring pass to Terrelle Pryor at the top of the second period for a 13-7 lead.
The Jets hold a 25-24-1 lead in the preseason series although they have lost the last three to the Giants. On the other hand, as the visiting team in the rivalry, the Jets have won five of the last six and nine of the last 11. The only road losses since 1997 were by one point each — 15-14 in 2005 at the old Meadowlands Stadium and 32-31 at MetLife in '17.