Friday, August 14, 2009

Things To Watch Tonight vs St. Louis

First, make sure to follow me tonight on where I will be live-tweeting (ugh) the Jets game. I haven't really found a way to incorporate Twitter into this blog, but I feel this is the best way. I always want to text fellow Jets fans after certain plays. Texting a machine that can let all of you read my thoughts is fine though. Only problem is, I'll be sitting in my friend's seats. He sits in the top row in the corner of the upper deck. He loves it. I'm only a little spoiled from having lower level tickets forever. Either way, I hope to see you reading tonight!

Now, a quick news update: Alan Faneca has broken a finger and will not play tonight, leaving Brandon Moore and D'Brickashaw Ferguson as the only healthy and active Jets in tonight's game. As a result, Mark Sanchez and Kellen Clemens will see very little action in favor of Erik Ainge, who could play three quarters. On the other hand, the Rams will play Marc Bulger a lot, possibly even into the second half. Now, I don't bet preseason, but if I did, St. Louis might be looking good just for that reason...

Now, onto some players and positions to watch.

Vernon Gholston - Early reports have been positive. If he can (gasp) get a sack, then at least we know he hasn't forgotten how to get to the quarterback. He'll likely be starting week one, so with the quarterback battle on the backburner, he is far and away the most important player to watch. Also, monitor UDFA LB Jamaal Westerman, whom Rex Ryan has effusively praised, and OLB Marques Murrell.

Tight End - Anyone who lines up at tight end is worth keeping an eye on. Is Dustin Keller really the #2 option? Can Keller block? Can anyone else on the depth chart even play? These questions will need to be answered. Keep an eye on Jack Simmons, Kevin Brock, and J'Nathan Bullock. Chances are, the Jets will use a backup offensive tackle at tight end a lot during the year, but one of those three guys should make the team as well. Simmons has the inside track, but there's a long way to go.

Wide Receiver - Tonight won't be the best gauge for this group if Ainge is going to be the primary quarterback. Still, it's the first game action for Chansi Stuckey and Brad Smith and probably David Clowney and Wallace Wright, too (both had been excused from practice recently for personal reasons). If Clowney makes a big play or two and flashes his speed, maybe Jets fans will ignore his sometimes inane tweets and get back on his bandwagon. Stuckey clearly has the inside track, but the others won't give up easy. Britt Davis, Aundrae Allison, and Marcus Henry also need to show why the Jets need to keep them on their final roster.

Nose Tackle - Kris Jenkins is out for this game, meaning DTs Howard Green and Sione Pouha will see most of the action in the middle of the field. This was a major depth issue last year as Pouha did not play well. Green has been impressive in camp. This may be Pouha's last chance to impress. Steven Jackson will be a big test for this defense as long as he's in the game, so keep an eye on the big guys in the middle. The Rams offensive line is not too strong, so if they get manhandled, this could be a problem.

Lito Sheppard - Darrelle Revis won't be playing, so Sheppard is the #1 corner (and Dwight Lowery is the #2). Sheppard has been very inconsistent over the last few seasons. The Rams' receiving corps is nothing to write home about, especially since they will be missing last year's rookie sensation Donnie Avery. Sheppard should be able to shut down the likes of Keenan Burton, Ronald Curry, and Laurent Robinson. And if he can't, Lowery has been very impressive during training camp and could eventually push for Sheppard's job.

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