List of Friday’s Articles

Beginning tomorrow, we take a look back at the biggest events from the sporting world over the past of the week in case you missed anything.  Our PTS NFL Preview of the NFC East will conclude tomorrow with our look at the Washington Redskins, and after we review the Redskins, we will publish the first in our series of PTS NFL Division Superlatives that will feature our predictions on everything from standings, division MVP, leading passer, rusher, tackler, league offensive and defensive rookie of the year, amongst much more.  Don’t forget to check back for the most up-to-date information on the sports world here at PTS!

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PTS NFL Preview: Dallas Cowboys

 

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Offseason

Coming off one of the most disappointing seasons in recent history, it was widely assumed that the Cowboys would be extremely active in free agency.  While the apple of their eye was CB Nnamdi Asomugha, they had several holes to fill including at OT, both S positions, and DL.  They kicked off free agency by re-signing their top free agent LT Doug Free to a multi-year contract.  Free filled in admirably last season after Flozell Adams’ release and looks to be their LT of the future.  They also re-signed Kyle Kosier to a 3-year deal to continue to man the slot at RG.  After Asomugha signed with the Eagles, the Cowboys began to overhaul their roster by cutting Marion Barber, Roy Williams, and Leonard Davis.  Ultimately they would re-sign Gerald Sensabaugh, last year’s starter at strong safety, and then sign Abe Elam to a one year contract to start opposite him at FS.  After losing DT/DE Stephen Bowen to the Washington Redskins, they solidified their defensive line by bringing back DE Kenyon Coleman, DE Marcus Spears, and DT/DE Jason Hatcher.

After what could best be described as a disappointing 2010 NFL Draft, it appears as though the Cowboys landed some future stars in the 2011 Draft.  With their first round pick, they took University of Southern California RT Tyron Smith at 9th overall.  Smith’s selection allowed the Cowboys to release Marc Colombo and it appears he will be the starter from Day 1.  They landed two of the draft’s better steals in the 2nd and 3rd rounds when they selected former UNC LB Bruce Carter at #40 overall (2nd rd) and DeMarco Murray at #71 (3rd rd).  Carter was a top 20 talent most expected to be gone in the first round, but between a knee injury and the NCAA investigation, his stock plummeted.  Regardless, he is a perfect fit from a physical perspective and can be either MLB or OLB with his ability to get to thr quarterback.  Most draft pundits were shocked when Murray was available in round 3 and while that is likely because of durability issues, the Oklahoma product actually owns most of the rushing records at the same school that produced All-Pro RB Adrian Peterson.  The Cowboys draft was solid from top to bottom and it wouldn’t be a shock if all of their final five picks not only made the team, but also saw significant playing tome.  Missouri State G David Arkin could challenge for the opening created by Leonard Davis’ release, Josh Thomas (CB, Buffalo) could see time in nickel and dime packages, East Carolina WR/KR Dwayne Harris played a huge role in the Boys’ release of Roy Williams and could see time returning kicks and in the slot immediately, Georgia FB Shaun Chapas should push Chris Gronkowski for playing time in the backfield as well on special teams, and Wisconsin C Bill Nagy should be a capable back up to Andre Gurode.

Offense

There is no mistaking that this is Tony Romo’s team and while Jon Kitna performed admirably in Romo’s absence, Dallas Super Bowl aspirations lie squarely on Romo’s right shoulder.  The skill players for Dallas will have a different look this year as former starting RB Marion Barber has since been released, which means former #1 draft Felix Jones is now the man in the backfield.  He will be spelled by Tashard Choice, who could start on most NFL teams, while DeMarco will also see time.  Chapas and Gronkowski will battle for playing time at fullback, although the Cowboys will likely use more two tight end sets that will feature All-Pro Jason Witten, last year’s leading receiver, and Martellus Bennet, an athletic 6’8” former basketball player.  At wide receiver the Cowboys are in very good shape with All-Pro Miles Austin and last year’s first round pick Dez Bryant, who really shined at times last year.  Kevin Ogletree will have the opportunity to nail down the slot receiver position, but don’t be surprised if Dallas brings in a veteran for competition.  The offensive line likely will require a bit of shuffling at Doug Free will start at LT, Montrae Holland at LG, Andre Gurode at C, Kosier at RG, and rookie Tyron Smith at RT.  Smith is a physical freak of nature who could be a bookend tackle for years to come once he adjusts to the speed of the game.

Defense

After last season’s debacle, the Cowboys fired Head Coach Wade Phillips and consequently brought in defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, New York Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan’s brother.  Ryan utilizes a similar 3-4 defense to that of Phillips, however it is much more aggressive.  In this scheme, the 3 down lineman are responsible for taking on block and holding up lineman, rather than penetrating and getting to the quarterback (although that’s always a plus).  Returning at NT is perhaps the 2nd best player at the position in the NFL, Jay Ratliff.  Behind Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata, Ratliff occupies blockers and collapses the pocket, no small feat when battling 300+lb centers and guards at the same time.  Marcus Spears returns at one DE slot, while returning starter Igor Olshansky starts opposite him;  Jason Hatcher and Kenyon Coleman will provide depth.  The linebackers are solid but aging with Keith Brooking and Bradie James on the inside, and All-Pro DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer on the outside.  Rookie Bruce Carter and second year man Sean Lee should provide depth, and while Ware is always good for 10-15 sacks, this could be the year Spencer breaks out in a big way.  If there is one area of concern on the Dallas defense it is their secondary.  Effective but aging Terrence Newman starts at one corner, while Mike Jenkins holds down the other spot.  Both had down years last season, but were Pro Bowlers the year before.  Orlando Scandrick provides an All-Pro type nickel back.  Sensabaugh and Elam could stand to be upgraded at safety, but they will have to do the trick for now.

Special Teams

The team returns kicker David Buehler as a kickoff specialist and long field goal kicker.  His accuracy on shorter kicks has been inconsistent, so don’t be surprised if they bring in a veteran for competition.  They also return the game’s best punter in Mat McBriar.  Dez Bryant will be the primary punt returner this year after he had a PR TD last season, while Felix Jones and Bryan McCann, among others will battle for the kick returner position.

PTS NFL Preview: Philadelphia Eagles

 

 

 

Offseason

What is left to say about the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason?  After it was announced that they would not pursue any of their own free agents including including starting LB Stewart Bradley (signed with Arizona Cardinals), SS Quintin Mikell (signed a 4 year, $28 dollar deal with St. Louis), and K David Akers who signed with the San Francisco 49ers, many fans were perplexed as to how they planned on improving their team.  All they did was sign perhaps the most impressive free agent class in history.  Among their moves:

  • Landed the marquee free agent on the market, Oakland Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha to a 5-year $60 million deal
  • Traded Backup QB Kevin Kolb to the Arizona Cardinals for Pro-Bowl CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2nd round pick
  • Signed Michael Vick to the franchise tag
  • Signed former Titans DE Jason Babin to a 5-years $28 million deal
  • Locked up former Packer DE/DT Cullen Jenkins to a 5-year $25 million contract
  • Inked former Denver Bronco OT Ryan Harris to a 1 year deal
  • Signed former Titan QB Vince Young to a 1-year deal to serve as Michael Vick’s backup
  • Added depth to the backfield by signing former Dolphin Ronnie Brown to a 1 year deal
  • They also added several other players including DTs Anthony Hargrove and Derek Landri, former Bengals OLB Rashad Jeanty, and WR Johnnie Lee Higgins

The Eagles enjoyed similar success in the 2011 NFL Draft as they stockpiled even more talent.  They grabbed OG Danny Watkins out of Baylor, who is expected to step in and start from Day 1.  In the next two rounds they added defensive depth by staying local and grabbing Temple Safety JaiquawnW Jarrett.  With the draft winding down, they selected a few players who may not only make the roster, but make significant impacts on special teams as well as offense or defense.  Among those picks are Oregon LB Casey Matthews, Pitt RB Dion Lewis, Ohio State LB Brian Rolle, UCONN LB Greg Lloyd, and USC FB Stanley Havili.

Offense

After years of this being Donovan McNabb’s Eagles, the tide has turned, and this team is officially Michael Vicks.  While the Eagles traded back up Kevin Kolb in the offseason, he has a more than capable backup in Vince Young.  Young is made from the same mold as Vick, with the ability to pass as well as make plays with his feet, so should Vick go down, the offense shouldn’t miss a beat.  At running back the Eagles return one of the best young rushers in the league in LeSean McCoy.  Equally adept as catching the ball out of the backfield, McCoy ran for over 1,000 yards last season and also led the team in receptions with 78.  Expect rookie Dion Lewis to spell him.  The wide receivers, provided DeSean Jackson ends his hold out, are perhaps the most dynamic in the league.  With Jackson on one side and Maclin on the other, the Eagles possess the speediest WR duo in the league.  Throw in Jason Avant and Brent Celek, a Pro Bowl up-and-coming tight end, and its easy to see why the Eagles offense is so dangerous.  The offensive line will be anchored by LT Jason Peters, RT Winston Justice, and rookie OG Danny Watkins.

Defense

The Eagles’ defensive line is definitely one of their strongest units as is evidenced by the way they harassed quarterbacks last season.  Jason Babin, Brandon Graham, and Trent Cole all return at DE to give Philly a destructive and deep rotation that has no dropoff.  Newly signed Cullen Jenkins will man one DT spot while Trevor Law looks in line to start opposite of him.  Derek Landri will provide depth, as will Mike Patterson provided his injury is nothing serious.

Special Teams

The punting and kicking jobs remain wide open with the release of Sav Rocca, but at the very least, the Eagles will be in good hands with DeSean Jackson returning kicks and punts.

 

 

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PTS NFL Preview: New England Patriots

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Offseason

Aside from the Philadelphia Eagles, the New England Patriots made perhaps the biggest splash in free agency.  Going against conventional wisdom, the Pats shocked the league when they struck a deal with the Washington Redskins to trade for DT Albert Haynesworth.  This was a very low-risk high-reward move as Haynesworth was the best DT in the league two years ago, but there are concerns about his character and motivation.  If there is any coaching staff who can light a fire under him, its certainly Belichick & Co.  They also added more veteran presence on their DL with the signings of Shaun Ellis, Andre Carter, Gerard Warren, and former Chicago Bear Mark Anderson.  They also locked up several of their own free agents in OG Logan Mankins, OT Matt Light, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and CB Kyle Arrington.  While trading for Haynesworth was huge, the most publicized move was the team’s trade for Former Bengal WR Chad OchoCinco.  Should he be able to keep his antics to a minimum, he could give the Pats that big receiver they have lacked since losing Randy Moss.

The Patriots are known for having the premier front office in the NFL and they always manage to find under the radar players who they develop into superstars A LA Tom Brady.  The team was very active on trade day as usual, trading picks up and down to stockpile selections.  They used their first pick on Colorado OT Nate Solder.  Solder is a mountain of a man at 6’8” and while he will be developed to protect Brady’s backside down the line, many drat pundits felt this was a reach as they weren’t completely sold on Solder.  With a total of 9 picks in the 2011 Draft, the Pats wheeled and dealed to move around to be in the position to select the players they had been targeted.  Their second round pick, Ras-I Dowling, a CB from University of Virginia, was one of my favorites, as he could step in immediately across from Pro-Bowler Devin McCourty and battle Leigh Bodden for the starting spot.  Of their remaining 7 picks, the two best were the selection of OT Marcus Cannon from TCU who could very well see time as a rookie at OG, and Ryan Mallett, the QB from Arkansas who was once projected as a lottery pick before character concerns arose.  He will be groomed as an understudy to Tom Brady.

Offense

The Patriots have one of the most high powered offensives in the league led by former NFL MVP Tom Brady.  The running game hasn’t been as productive as years past, but Brady will have a few capable RBs to hand the ball off to including former Jet Danny Woodhead, BenJarvis Green-Ellis, Kevin Faulk, and Sammy Morris.  The wide receivers will be lead by Wes Welker, Brady’s favorite target, as well as Chad OchoCinco.  Depth will be provided by Julien Edelman, Deion Branch, Taylor Price, and Brandon Tate.  The tight end position is in extremely good hands as the Pats have two of the premier young TEs in Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, both draft picks form 2010.  The line will once again be solid with Matt Light and Sebastian Vollmer, a 2nd team All-Pro pick last year at bookends, with Logan Mankins and Dan Koppen at RG and C, respectively.  Dan Connolly appears to be the starter at LG, but that could change over the year as rookie Marcus Cannon, out of TCU, progresses.

Defense

The Pats run a 3-4 defense and had one of their worst DLs last season, in the past few years.  Vince Wilfork, one of the game’s premier NT, returns inside.  It appears as though Shaun Ellis will start at one end with Albert Haynesworth playing the opposite side.  The Pats will likely show several different fronts to take advantage of Haynesworth’s pass rushing ability, while Jermaine Cunningham (last year’s starter), will battle Andre Carter and Mark Anderson for playing time.  At linebacker there are also significant holes, however Jerod Mayo, a Pro-Bowler, will anchor this unit.  Andre Carter and Mark Anderson will also see sometime at the outside spots to act as pass rushers, and Rob Ninkovich will also see action after starting last season.  Gary Guyton and Marques Murrell should provide depth, being that several players will move down a level in certain packages as the Pats use their OLBs and DEs interchangeably.  The secondary appears to be in good shape as Pro Bowl CB Devin McCourty returns, as does last year’s starter Leigh Bodden.  Bodden will be pushed by Dowling, with one manning the nickel cb position.  Safety looks good with Brandon Merriweather and Patrick Chung, backed up by former high draft pick Darius Butler.

Special Teams

The Special Teams are definitely a strong point for this Patriots team as they return Stephen Gostkowski, one of the premier kickers in the league, as well as Punter Zoltan Mesko, who finished in the Top 5 last year for most major punting statistics.  Keep an eye out on Brandon Tate as a kick returner, who prior to his injury returned several kicks for touchdowns at UNC.  Julian Edelman will man the punt returns.

 

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PTS NFL Preview: New York Giants

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Offseason

Heading into this offseason, the Giants knew it would be vital to work quickly as the lockout threatened to diminish their negotiating time.  Perhaps the most daunting task was to re-sign their own free agents.  Several key players were available for free agency including Ahmad Bradshaw, Kevin Boss, Steve Smith, Barry Cofield, and Mathias Kiwanuka.  They also had to decide what to do with several aging players and big contracts.  The Giants began the free agency period by cutting longtime linemen Shaun O’Hara and Rich Seubert, much to the surprise of fans.  Shortly after, Barry Cofield announced his intentions to sign a huge deal with the Washington Redskins.  The loss of Cofield was a huge blow to the defensive line and with the Giants being known for their deep DL and pass rush, they moved quickly to sign Kiwanuka to a 1-year deal.  Kiwi is coming off a serious neck injury and will be looking to show he is back to full strength and worthy of a long-term deal.  Next the Giants restructured Brandon Jacobs deal, giving them the flexibility they needed to sign Ahmad Bradshaw to a 4-year deal.  The Giants did take a blow when Kevin Boss announced last week that he was signing with the Oakland Raiders, leaving the G-Men with a huge gap to fill at tight end.  At the time this article was published, wide receiver Steve Smith, who is coming off a tremendous season that was cut short by injury, is still unsigned.  Perhaps the most disconcerting issue in all of the offseason is the holdout of All-Pro DE Osi Umenyiora, who is unhappy with his contract and doesn’t appear to be getting back on the field anytime soon.

The Giants have been one of the better teams in the league as it pertains to identifying, drafting, and developing young talent.  The 2010 Draft seems to have fallen in line with this theory as it initially appears that the Giants struck gold.  Sitting at the #20 spot in the first round, the Giants scooped up Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara, who was supposed to be a Top-10 pick.  They were elated that he fell to them and despite having bigger needs on the offensive line, he was too good a value to pass up.  They again hit it big in the second round when UNC DT Marvin Austin was still available.  Prior to last season, Austin was widely considered a Top-20 talent but his stock took a huge hit when he was suspended for all of last season by the NCAA.  With the selection of Austin, it appears the Giants were able to land two top flight starters for years to come.  With pick 83 in the 3rd round, the Giants grabbed yet ANOTHER player who had an inexplicable fall on draft day, Troy WR Jerrel Jernigan.  With the injury to Steve Smith, Jernigan could very well see action as a rookie.  With their final 5 picks, the Giants added depth across the board.  Usually this late in the draft, teams are looking for players who can simply make the roster, but the Giants appear to have found players that will not only make the roster, but potentially make an impact down the line.  The highlights of these picks were 4th round selection James Brewer (OT, Indiana) who some projected as a second round pick, Michigan State LB Greg Jones, who was one of college football’s best linebackers as a senior, and Maryland RB Da’Rel Scott, who may have the opportunity for carries as early as this season.

Offense

As everyone in the NFL knows, this team will only go as far as quarterback Eli Manning can take them.  While he is one of the better young signal callers in the league, and does have a Super Bowl ring to his credit, he needs to continue to develop and take on more of a leadership role coming off of a disappointing season.  The Giants also recently signed David Carr to become Manning’s backup.  At running back, the Giants return their leading rusher Ahmad Bradshaw as well as Brandon Jacobs.  Bradshaw enjoyed a breakout season last year rushing for over 1,200 yards, while Jacobs led the team with 9 rushing TDs.  They will once again be one of the better running back tandems in the league, provided they can cut back on the mistakes, namely Bradshaw’s fumbling habit.  The wide receiver position exemplifies the Giants ability to identify, draft, and develop young talent as their three leading receivers were top draft picks the past few drafts.  Hakeem Nicks led the team in receiving with over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Mario Manningham finished just shy of the century mark.  Steve Smith has proven to be one of the best young receivers in the league, however he endured a pretty bad injury and it remains to be seen if he can return to form.  At tight end, the Giants are hoping former 3rd round draft pick Travis Beckum can step up as they lost Kevin Boss to the Raiders.  Beckum is more of a receiving tight end in the mold of the Jets’ Dustin Keller, as he is only 6’3 240 lbs.  He will compete with Bear Pascoe for time.  The starting offensive line come opening day will look nothing like it has the past few seasons.  David Diehl, the returning starter at LT, will slide inside to LG as former 2nd round pick Will Beatty takes over at LT.  Free agent signee David Baas will fill the opening at center, while Chris Snee returns at RG and Kareem McKenzie is the returning starter at RT.  The Giants have decent depth with former Seahawks RT Stacy Andrews, Adam Koets, and rookie James Brewer.

Defense

The key to the Giants improbable Super Bowl run a few years ago was their insanely deep and talented defensive line.  While they lost a huge piece of that line when Barry Cofield signed with the Redskins, they return a good amount of talent here. It will be imperative that they come to some kind of terms with Pro Bowler Osi Umenyiora because they may not be able to overcome losing a pass rusher as talented as him.  Captain Justin Tuck anchors one defensive end position, while second-year DE Jason Pierre-Paul, who came on strong at the end of his rookie season last year after becoming a first-round pick out of USF, has the makings of a star and will start across from him.  Mathias Kiwanuka will flip back and forth between DE and OLB.  At defensive tackle, the Giants return Chris Canty, last offseason’s big free agent acquisition.  They are hoping that second-year man Linval Joseph can step up at the other DT position, or rookie Marvin Austin may be forced into action.  If Umenyiora does return at some point, expect to see plenty of looks that offer Umenyiora, Tuck, Pierre-Paul, and Canty, all of whom can get to the quarterback.  The linebacker position is clearly the weakest link on the defense.  While OLB Michael Boley is far and away the team’s best LB, there is room for improvement across the board.  Expect Boley to start at one OLB spot, with Jonathan Goff at MLB, and Clint Sintim at the other OLB post.  Even with the injury to Prince Amukamara, the secondary remains strong.  The Giants have two top-flight cornerbacks in Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas, with Aaron Ross as perhaps the best nickel cornerback in the league.  They also have one of the leagues best duos at safety with Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle, both former Miami Hurricanes.

Special Teams

The Giants return the steady Lawrence Tynes at Kicker, who has come up big in clutch situations.  Matt Dodge is the returning starter at punter, but the Giants brought in former Jet Sam Weatherford to provide competition.  Dodge has a huge leg, but has problems with directional punting.  Darius Reynaud, a late season acquisition from the Minnesota Vikings last year, returns as the primary KR and PR.  Danny Ware will also return kicks.

 

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PTS NFL Preview: New York Jets

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Offseason

In an abbreviated, lockout-shortened offseason highlighted by several high-profile free agents flocking to the Philadelphia Eagles, the New York Jets managed to make some headlines of their own.  They started off free agency by re-signing their own top free agent, wide receiver Santonio Holmes, to a 5-year, $50 million contract, that includes $24 million guaranteed.  With 3 of their 4 top wide receivers from last season hitting free agency (Holmes, Braylon Edwards, and Brad Smith), it was imperative to retain at least 1 or 2 of them, and aside from Holmes being far and away the best from that group, he is one of the top wide receivers in the entire NFL.  After re-signing Holmes, the Jets turned their attention to the top free agent on the market regardless of position, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.  Just a day before Asomugha shocked the world and signed with the Eagles, it was speculated that he had narrowed his choices down to the Jets and Dallas Cowboys, with the Jets being the leader.  With Asomugha out of the picture, the Jets re-signed Antonio Cromartie, their second most important free agent behind Holmes and the player who started opposite Darrelle Revis last season after coming over from San Diego in a trade.  While Cromartie is not as talented as Nnamdi Asomugha, he quietly had a solid season for the Jets last year.  With Revis manning one cornerback post, the Jets know who ever starts opposite of him will see a lot of action as most teams have abandoned testing #24, and Cromartie has great height, speed, and ball skills.  The next move will likely be the most scrutinized this upcoming season, as the Jets signed former Giant WR Plaxico Burress.  Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past two years, you are well aware of Burress’ stint in jail following gun charges stemming from when he shot himself in the thigh in a New York City nightclub.  This is a low-risk, high-reward move as they offered him a 1-year, $3.017 million guaranteed contract to start opposite Holmes, essentially replacing Braylon Edwards.  Those moves highlighted the Jets activity in free agency and they had similar success in the 2011 NFL Draft.  Rex Ryan used the team’s first-round pick to select Temple DT/DE Muhammad Wilkerson, who is expected to start at DE in the Jets base 3-4 defense.  With their second round pick they chose 6’5” 330 lb. DT Kenrick Ellis, who they hope will be the heir apparent at DT after they released Kris Jenkins in the offseason.  The Jets used the rest of their picks to add depth at a number of positions, but at least one of them, Jeremly Kerley, has the chance to make an immediate impact.  The 5’9” wide receiver out of TCU will look to step into the vacancy at slot receiver, created by Brad Smith’s signing with the Buffalo Bills.  He will also try to fill Smith’s spot as a returner on kicks and punts, as well as his role as the Wildcat quarterback, something Kerley did at TCU.

Offense

Heading into last season, Mark Sanchez’s second year out of USC, it was widely assumed that he would be asked to simply manage games rather than win them.  As the year progressed, it became clear that it was Sanchez’s offense as he made play after play, coming up huge in the clutch.  Sanchez will return this season not only as the starting quarterback, but as the NewYork Jet’s captain.  He again will have two solid options at running back in LaDanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene.  Tomlinson revitalized his career last season, far exceeding any expectations fans and coaches had upon his signing with the Jets.  Greene, a battering ram of a running back, will likely be asked to take on a larger role this season to lessen the wear and tear on Tomlinson, including more red zone carries.  The wide receiver position will have a different look this season, as only Santonio Holmes returns.  With the recent release of Jerricho Cotchery, the Jets will be replacing 4 of their 5 wideouts from a season ago.  Holmes will be joined by Plaxico Burress, who will start opposite him despite having been out of football the past two years.  Two rookies, Jeremy Kerley from TCU and Scotty McKnight from Colorado, will have the opportunity to seize the slot receiver position.  Patrick Turner, who played minimally last season after coming over from the Miami Dolphins, is the only other returning receiver with game experience.  Look for the Jets to potentially add a veteran WR like Derrick Mason as camp wears on.  The tight end position is in good hands as the dynamic Dustin Keller returns.  Keller developed quite a rapport with Sanchez last season, becoming his safety valve and one of his favorite targets.  Keller led the team last season with 55 receptions and also had 5 touchdowns.  The Jets will also return one of the best offensive lines in all of the NFL, led by Pro Bowlers LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson and C Nick Mangold.  Brandon Moore, a road grader at RG, also returns.  A little shuffling will be necessary as the Jets parted ways with last season’s starting RT Damien Woody.  Expect last year’s second-round pick Vladimir Ducasse to challenge Wayne Hunter at RT, with the former also adding depth at LG behind Matt Slauson.

 

Defense

This group is the reason people purchase New York Jets tickets.  The Jets run a base 3-4 defense and this season they will look a little different up front then in years past.  Gone is NT Kris Jenkin, who was replaced by Sione Pouha after suffering a season-ending injury for the second consecutive year.  Pouha will face competition from 2nd round pick Kenrick Ellis, who is a mammoth at 6’3” 335 lbs.  The Jets are expecting 1st round pick Muhammad Wilkerson to start at defensive end from day 1.  Look for Shaun Ellis, Trevor Pryce, and Mike DeVito to fill out the other DE position, as well as add depth at the position.  The heart and soul of all Rex Ryan defenses are the linebackers and that is most certainly true with this New York Jets teams.  The Jets have perhaps the NFL’s best ILB duo in Bart Scott and David Harris.  Harris was just rewarded with a 4 year contract extension this offseason, making him the final member of the Jets’ “Core Four” to be locked up for the next few seasons.  Harris and Scott are flanked on one side by Calvin Pace on one side and Bryan Thomas on the other.  Look for Jamaal Westerman and Cody Brown to challenge Thomas, as well as provide situational pass rushers.  The secondary is also strong as the Jets return Darelle Revis, the NFL’s premier cornerback, and Antonio Cromartie at the starting CB posts.  Former first round pick Kyle Wilson will be counted on to fill the Nickel corner role, while Donald Strickland and Dwight Lowery will challenge and provide depth in multi-WR sets.  Jim Leonhard will start at one safety spot, while Eric Smith will start opposite him if he can hold off Brodney Pool.

Special Teams

The Jets brought back kicker Nick Folk, while TJ Conley will handle the punting duties.  The loss of do-it-all WR/KR Brad Smith will certainly hurt, and the team will look to several players to fill his role on return teams.  Expect the competition at KR to be between Joe McKnight, Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson, and rookie Jeremy Kerley, while Jim Leonhard will return as the PR.

 

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