Saturday, August 29, 2009

Jets vs Giants Preview

At 8:00 the Jets will look for their first win of the Rex Ryan era in a road game in Giants Stadium. For the third straight week in a row, the primary focus from most fans will be quarterback Mark Sanchez. Now that he has been named the starting quarterback, all eyes will be on him to see how he does in a full half of play against another stout defense.

This is the closest to the real thing we will see in the preseason. Starters will be in longer, so if the Jets can move the ball against the Giants, it will mean something, especially considering Sanchez's struggles last week.

So as a result, here are 10 players to pay extra attention to.

1. OLB Vernon Gholston - This is his first start in the NFL. Even though it's preseason, it'd be great to see him actually have a pulse. He's been better this year, but it hasn't shown up in the stat sheet. For $21 million guaranteed, you'd like to at least see one sack in his career. Is that too much to ask for?

2. QB Mark Sanchez - His second start in the NFL. He's not competing for a job anymore; now he's just focused on getting better and getting positive experience. If he struggles the way he did early against Baltimore, that would not be a good sign just 15 days from opening day.

3. WR David Clowney - He's seeing his first action against first stringers. Another strong performance should cement him across Jerricho Cotchery week one. If he disappears, the Jets may take a closer look at some receivers on the trading block ranging from the Eagles' Reggie Brown to the Broncos' Brandon Marshall.

4. RB Leon Washington - He still hasn't gotten his new contract despite playing very well so far in the preseason. The little guy is equal parts motivated and talented, and if he's once again the best weapon on the field for the Jets, something may give.

5. NT Kris Jenkins - It's his first game after missing most of training camp with a left calf strain. I don't think he'll play much, but given his importance to the team, you would love to see him flash some of his immense skill.

6. CB Darrelle Revis - Same as Jenkins. He's missed time with a left hamstring injury, and he needs to be 100% for this team to succeed.

7. LB Jamaal Westerman/LB Marques Murrell - If Gholston doesn't step up, one or both of these prospects will see more time. Murrell has shown flashes of being a good pass rusher, while Westerman has impressed Rex Ryan all camp. Gholston will likely be named the starter, but one of these guys can take most of the playing time vacated by Calvin Pace.

8. P Reggie Hodges/P Glenn Pakulak - Mike Westhoff is begging for someone to claim the open punting job. So far, that hasn't happened yet. Hodges has already beaten out Eric Wilbur, T.J. Conley, and Ken Parrish despite not punting too well himself. Pakulak has more NFL experience than any of the others. Whoever punts better against the Giants will have the inside track on the job.

9. TE Jack Simmons/TE Kevin Brock/TE Kareem Brown - One or two of these guys has to make the final roster. Simmons and Brown appear to have a slight edge on the newcomer Brock, though no one has made a knockout blow. Brown is a converted defensive lineman, Brock was waived earlier in the offseason, and Simmons was an undrafted free agent. Let's pray Dustin Keller doesn't get hurt.

10. QB Kellen Clemens - Yes, Kellen Clemens. How does he react to being demoted to the backup? Obviously, he's not starting anymore, but his contract expires after this year. Chances are, he bolts, but Sanchez is untested in terms of his NFL durability, and if anything were to happen to him, Clemens would step in. On the other hand, if the veteran struggles and Erik Ainge continues to develop, Clemens may not even be the primary backup by mid-season.

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