Which Rookie Should Fans Look for in Jets-Eagles Preseason Finale?

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Throughout the season, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg,Olivia Landis and Randy Lange will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year’s Jets.

Today’s question: Which rookie should Jets fans look out for in the preseason finale vs. the Eagles?

EA: Greg Dortch.

Last Saturday, the undrafted free agent from Wake Forest had a 27-yard punt return against the Saints. In his first game action of the summer, he turned in a 32-yard punt return against the Giants.

Bill Parcells used to refer to it as “hidden yardage” and specials teams are such an overlooked facet of the game. The Jets had the best special teams units in football last season, but they are replacing two Pro Bowlers in return man Andre Roberts and kicker Jason Myers. Taylor Bertolet put his best foot forward against New Orleans with successful boots from 48 and 56 and he would seem to have an opportunity to lock up at least the Week 1 kicking job with another strong performance.

The 5’7”, 173-pound Dortch has recorded five catches this preseason including a late touchdown grab against the Giants and he could find himself in the starting lineup against the Eagles. He’s also averaged 11.3 yards on his punt returns to date while showing escapability and good short-area quickness. Dortch has put him in position to be the Jets’ punt returner against Buffalo.

“Obviously you can see he is fearless,” head coach Adam Gase said of Dortch following the preseason opener. “He’s going to stick his face in the fan and usually make somebody miss and get vertical. If we have any kind of crease, he is going to get as many yards as he can.”

His punt return ability could put Dortch, a player who had 89 receptions for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns at Wake in 2018, on the roster. He’ll get his chance to rack up the all-purpose yards against the Birds.

EG: I’m taking a closer look at CB Kyron Brown. When Trumaine Johnson went down in training camp with a hamstring injury, Brown, perhaps surprisingly, was the next man up on the outside opposite Darryl Roberts. Unfortunately, the Akron product also suffered a hamstring injury and missed both the Falcons and Saints games. But in the preseason opener against the Giants, the 6’1”, 195-pounder led the Jets with five tackles. Brown picked up where he left off in his return to practice this week as he intercepted a Trevor Siemian pass intended for Tim White. Jets general manager Joe Douglas feels good about the competition among the young corners such as Brown, Tevaughn Campbell, who started against both the Falcons and Saints, and Alex Brown. I thought A.Brown, another undrafted free agent who joined the Jets Aug. 5, was impressive in his last two games as he played a combined 99 snaps and totaled seven tackles and two pass defenses. The South Carolina State product, along with the rest of the corners, will shift even more into focus as cuts loom considering the Green & White agreed to terms to trade for Colts CB Nate Hairston on Wednesday. 

OL: Quinnen Williams has figured heavily in the defensive-line rotation throughout the summer and I would expect to see a similar situation in the Jets game against the Eagles. I think it’s always a good idea for fans to keep their eye on a team’s first-round draft pick during this time in order to get a solid glimpse of what they can expect from that player when regular season hits.

During training camp, Gregg Williams noted how smart the first-year defensive lineman was, so I don’t think it’s far-fetched if you see Q. Williams play multiple positions along the line this season. More than anything, the 21-year old braceface has an infectious personality, and simply put, he’s just fun to watch.  

RL: Because he's a member of this year's group of gridders in the NFL's International Player Pathway Program, RB/WR/KR Valentine Holmes can't make the active roster this year. But he could gain an exemption to become the Jets' 11th practice squad member beginning Sunday, and that's a reason to keep an eye on No. 39 vs. the Eagles tonight. In the first three preseason games, Holmes has modest numbers — six carries for 9 yards, three catches for 30 yards, one punt return for 0 yards, one kickoff return for 21 yards, all on 19 offensive plays and five more on special teams. But the former Australia National Rugby League star has attacked his opportunity with vigor and has shown he can take a lickin' and keep on tickin'. With a probable increase in reps in this summer wrap, Holmes at least has a chance to be included in a trio of players who thrived in Philly finales of the recent past — WR Chansi Stuckey in '07 (178 all-purpose yards), RB Jesse Chatman in '08 (180 scrimmage yards, one TD) and RB Danny Woodhead in '09 (168 YFS, 199 APY, 2 TDs).

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