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Three Jets Training Camp Battles to Watch 

Green & White Have Big Shoes to Fill at Returner, DC Gregg Williams On the Look for Versatile Players


With training camp starting this week, many Jets position battles will begin as the 90 players on the roster will fight for 53 spots. Here are a few areas to keep an eye on throughout the summer:

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams feels good about his cornerbacks, but he has stressed cross-training at all positions.

"You can't just be a one-position-dominant person," Williams said. "When you do that, that's the next man-up-philosophy. So, how do you get through an injury-plagued game, an injury-plagued season, who's the next best athlete, not the next guy on the depth chart at that position? So, our guys have already started doing that. We've already put the playbook in three-and-a-half times, so we'll put it in another three times at training camp. Guys are already starting to multitask at other positions."

As it stands, Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts are the starters on the outside with Brian Poole in the slot. But Poole will start camp on the Active/NFI list. After that, the Jets have eight corners — Kyron Brown, Tevaughn Campbell, Jeremy Clark, Derrick Jones, Arthur Maulet, Montrel Meander, Mark Myers and Parry Nickerson — and none have more than three years of NFL experience. The eight have combined for 34 game appearance and three starts.

Jones had a strong training camp in 2018 and finished the preseason with five tackles, two pass defenses and an interception. But in the regular season, he only suited up in Week 17 and posted three tackles against the Patriots. Can the 6'2" 188-pounder take the next step in Year 3?

General manager Joe Douglas added Meander and Myers during his first week on the job.

Tight End
With Chris Herndon out the first quarter of the regular season (suspension), the rest of the tight ends aren't just battling for a roster spot. They're also competing for an opportunity to start.

Newly signed Ryan Griffin has the most experience and production of the five tight ends (excluding Herndon), a group that includes Eric Tomlinson, Dan Brown, Trevon Wesco and Temuchin Hodges. He's played in 77 contests and started in 36, and the seventh-year veteran has a career 1,491 receiving yards and seven touchdowns on 136 receptions.

Brown, a free agent addition, flashed in OTAs and minicamp. He also played all four phases of special teams with the Bears, which could play in his favor when the Jets brass composes the final 53-man roster.

"Dan is a guy who's really, really smart," tight ends coach John Dunn said in the spring. "He has great football IQ. He's kind of a jack of all trades. He's a former receiver, he's nifty in the passing game, he's good in pass protection.

"I think the one thing with Dan is his experience. His knowledge helps him. Dan has a natural feel for the game and you can see that when he plays."

Wesco, the Jets' fourth-round pick, is regarded as the top blocking tight end in his rookie class. While he didn't hold many receiving duties at West Virginia, the 6'3" 267-pounder posted career highs his senior season with 26 catches for 366 yards (one TD).

The Green & White Reported for Training Camp in Florham Park on Thursday

Whoever wins the return job has big shoes to fill as Andre Roberts, who earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors last year, is with the Buffalo Bills. In the spring, the Jets had a number of players take reps at both kick and punt returner including Ty Montgomery, Eli McGuire, Quadree Henderson, Deonte Thompson, Trenton Cannon, J.J. Jones and Greg Dortch.

Thompson and Montgomery have the most pro return experience with 88 and 35 kick returns, respectively, but neither have fielded a punt return. Henderson has the most PR experience with nine attempts.

When Cannon was drafted last year, many pegged him to be the returner in 2018. Instead, the sixth-round pick emerged as the team's top gunner. Could a year in the NFL and a full offseason be what the Virginia State product needed to take the return job?

"Trenton is doing a nice job," special teams coordinator Brant Boyer said in the spring. "He's focusing more on kick return stuff than punt return right now. He works on it all the time and we have him in there sometimes and don't have him in there other times. We have such a big group of guys right now for the punt return that I can't give reps to everybody every day."

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