As always, the Jets held their annual OTA practices in preparation for training camp. Now that these OTA practices have been wrapped up, we take a look back at the good, and the bad. Five takeaways from this year’s OTA’s:
1. Teddy Bridgewater in Contention to Start
As you may or may not have heard, Teddy Bridgewater has been playing extraordinary so far this offseason. He played the best out of the three quarterback’s, and showed no signs of injury. Considering how gruesome his knee injury was in 2016, coming back strong is impressive.
Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer commented on Bridgewater’s health before offseason programs began, saying Bridgewater might not be 100%. Although nothing is proven until pads are put on, he looked well near his old self.
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) March 28, 2018
Due to his superb play, Bridgewater has ignited trade rumors around the league. Many teams are looking into Bridgewater now that his knee appears to be healed. However, Jets fans are forgetting something. Teddy Bridgewater could start in 2018. Why not? If he plays like the best quarterback on the Jets roster, there is no reason for the Jets not to play him.
Josh McCown, Sam Darnold and Bridgewater are all competing for the same spot. There is no reason to force McCown onto the field simply because he’s “the mentor”. As for Darnold, the last thing the Jets could possibly do is rush him onto the field. If Bridgewater remains healthy throughout training camp and preseason, he may very well be under center for week one.
2. Chad Hansen Fighting for Roster Spot
Chad Hansen has been on fire so far this offseason. He has played extremely well throughout all of OTA’s. He has outperformed ArDarius Stewart, who was picked a round before him in last years’ NFL Draft. He has been playing like a top four wide receiver on the roster.
The Jets receiver room is packed. Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Jermaine Kearse, Terrelle Pryor Sr., Andre Roberts, Charles Johnson, Jonah Trinnaman, ArDarius Stewart, Charone Peake, Tre McBride, Devin Smith, Lucky Whitehead, and of course, Hansen. 13 receivers in total. If I’m guessing, I’d say seven or eight make the roster.
Assuming Anderson, Enunwa, Kearse, and Pryor all make the final roster, that leaves three or four spots for nine guys. It will be a battle that will likely go all the way into preseason. So far, Hansen is winning the battle. The coaches are very happy with his progress thus far. Who knows what’s in store for this group of receivers. One thing is for sure though, and that is that Hansen should make the final roster.
3. Buster Skrine Starting?
So far in OTA’s, the starting cornerbacks have been Trumaine Johnson and… Buster Skrine?
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Yes, you read that correctly. Buster Skrine has been given the majority of the reps as the No. 2 cornerback, ahead of Morris Claiborne. Bowles did praise Skrine’s play late in the season, and it seems to have carried into the offseason. Claiborne has been moved to cornerback No. 3.
2018 is a contract year for Skrine, and if he proves himself, he could be in for a solid paycheck. He was given a hefty contract back in 2015, when the Jets signed him to a four year deal worth a total of $25,000,000. The Jets had the opportunity to opt out of that deal this offseason, so they must like what they see.
Skrine is typically a nickel, slot-type corner, so it is odd to see him playing the outside. Maybe the Jets plan to hand the slot position over to Parry Nickerson in the near future. Regardless, the cornerback position will be one to keep an eye on throughout training camp.
4. Terrelle Pryor Sr. Still Banged Up
Terrelle Pryor wasn’t seen throughout the entire OTA program until Monday, where he was spotted wearing a boot on his ankle. He reportedly had a cleanup procedure on his injured ankle, which he hurt in Washington.
#Jets WR Terrelle Pryor, spotted by reporters at OTAs in a walking boot, recently had a minor cleanup procedure on his foot, sources say. He is expected to be ready for training camp, though.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 5, 2018
In 2017 Pryor dealt with injuries throughout the whole season. Despite playing through them, it limited him in a big way. His yardage numbers nearly went down 800 yards from 2016, when he posted 1,007 yards with the Browns.
Although he is expected to be ready for training camp, this is a huge question mark. The Redskins dealt with injuries the entire season with Pryor, and that’s the last thing the Jets want. Pryor not being healthy is a major concern, and if he aggravates his ankle again, he may not be a lock for a spot on the roster.
5. Sam Darnold Already Playing with Starters
Sam Darnold played more than any other quarterback during OTA’s. This comes unsurprisingly, as any rookie picked at third overall should be immediately getting reps from the day he walks in. Sam Darnold had the most reps, while Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater played an equal amount.
Over the course of OTA’s, Darnold progressively worked his way into the first team offense. On the first practice open to the media, he played exclusively with backups. On the second practice open to the media, he played slightly with the first team. On the third, he played several reps with the first team.
Coach Bowles said that the increase in reps is “nothing to read into”, but having Darnold get first team reps this early in the offseason is big. If he continues to develop and improve, he may even be ready for a week one start. At the bare minimum, expect Darnold to be ready well before the trade deadline.