Easily the most intriguing storyline heading into Saturday's preseason game against the Bengals is the Jets' proposed usage of third-year safety Antonio Allen at the cornerback position. Injuries have forced the Jets to work with some different combinations over the last few weeks with Allen and veteran Ellis Lankster starting at cornerback with the first unit over the past three days of practice.

In an article with the Star Ledger earlier this week, Allen's college position coach praised his versatility and man-coverage skills, but was dubious about his chances of developing into a full-time cornerback. Even Allen himself seemed skeptical. However, it does look like he'll get his chance to get some reps at the position Saturday night.

After the jump, some theories as to what the Jets might be thinking here and what this could mean for the defense once Dee Milliner and Dimitri Patterson can return from injury.

Introduction

As a rookie, Allen didn't play much, with one of his appearances being a rough game in New England where Tom Brady picked on him three straight times on the game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter. However, last year he won a starting job in camp and really won Jets fans over with his performance against the Patriots in October. Allen matched up with Rob Gronkowski several times in man coverage, breaking up two passes and returning an interception for a crucial touchdown. While Gronkowski got the better of him a few times, he held him to five catches on 13 targets overall, a more than credible effort and a tantalizing glimpse into his potential.

Over the course of the season, Allen had his ups and downs, but most of his best moments came when employed in man-coverage. That fits in with the comments of his position coach in the article linked above. All told, Allen was lined up opposite a receiver in the slot on 170 snaps, including over 40% of the time on pass plays.

So, Allen has in fact essentially had some experience in a cornerback role already. However, using him on the outside is something new. Allen did line up on the outside 16 times last year, but most of these would have been following a back or tight end who motioned out there.

Come in number 39

Entering the 2012 draft, one of the reasons Allen slid all the way to the 7th round was that nobody was too sure what his NFL position would be. He played a role called the "Spur" at South Carolina, which is best described as a hybrid linebacker/safety role. Rex Ryan noted last week that Allen's pro day was really poor as he sought to make the transition to defensive back. Surely Allen is too big and slow to play the cornerback position?

It's a copy-cat league and the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks may be pioneering an evolution in NFL secondary play with the size and versatility of their defensive backfield. I've already written about how the Jets have taken many of the same traits as the Seahawks on board, perhaps influenced by the fact that General Manager John Idzik came from there. Could this - whether "this" is using Allen situationally or full-time as a corner - be another example of trying to incorporate some of the things that have made the Seahawks successful into the Jets organization?

While he missed out on the Seahawks playoff success due to a suspension, there was one player on their roster whose measurables compare pretty closely to Allen, perhaps signifying that converting him into a cornerback of similar repute is not totally out of the question. Brandon Browner is a pro bowler who just happens to wear the same number 39 that Allen does. Let's compare combine measurements:

Height: Allen 6'1½" ... Browner 6'3½"Weight: Allen 210 ... Browner 221

40 yard dash: Allen 4.58 ... Browner 4.63

20 yard split: Allen 2.56 ... Browner 2.70

10 yard split: Allen 1.61 ... Browner 1.67

Bench press reps: Allen 17 ... Browner 13

Vertical jump: Allen 34 ... Browner 36½

Broad jump: Allen 118 ... Browner 123

Short shuttle: Allen 4.25 ... Browner 4.24

Three cone drill: Allen 7.02 ... Browner 7.20

So, in terms of their athletic profile, Allen and Browner are not too far apart. In addition, Allen's first two seasons in the league have seen him gain experience as a starting safety and lining up in the slot, whereas Browner's career started with a broken arm that sidelined him for his entire rookie year and then having to cut his teeth in Canada when he was released in July the following season.

Browner does have the advantage of having played cornerback in college, but that still factored into him going undrafted despite being a projected third round pick because teams were dubious whether he fit at cornerback or safety at the NFL level, a similar dilemma to that which Allen faced. There's also the question of how much of Browner's development to an NFL-ready cornerback can be attributed to performance enhancing drugs, for which he has been punished by the league.

Scheming around the weaknesses

Adding further intrigue to the Browner-Allen comparison is the fact that Browner signed with New England in the offseason. Based on last week's game, they're employing Browner (who will miss the first four games of the season while he serves his suspension) as a conventional cornerback. However, when I was scouting Ras-I Dowling, I noticed something which might factor into their gameplanning now that they have Darrelle Revis on the team.

Last season, I was surprised at how often the Patriots employed their cornerbacks in press coverage. Aqib Talib in particular was left on an island, but you'd often find three Patriots corners all up at the line in passing situations. Obviously we can anticipate that Revis will be employed in cover-0 situations, enabling the Patriots to roll safety support over to their other cornerbacks. Their deep safety is, of course, a converted cornerback (Devin McCourty) who has the coverage skills to latch onto a receiver downfield. What I noticed with regard to Dowling in particular was that there were several occasions where he played up on the receiver and then if the receiver ran down the seam, he passed him off to the deep safety and transitioned to covering the underneath zone. That would allow him to be physical at the line, keep the short intermediates in front of him and potentially jump a route if the quarterback is fooled by the switch. That's how I could see the Patriots employing Browner at times next year.

So, applying this to the Jets, maybe that's something the Jets could do with someone like Allen at times. It might be one way to fix the issue of teams being able to get rid of the ball quickly but without making yourselves as susceptible to the long ball. It also takes away the pressure from a guy like Allen in having to run stride-for-stride with a speedy receiver. Of course, the key to this might be Calvin Pryor, who has the range to make such an approach work in theory, but will need to develop and learn his role really fast.

The immediate future

Since the Jets stuck with the Allen and Lankster pairing since they first experimented with it, I would expect those two to start on the outside Saturday night. While Rex Ryan was asked how he thought Allen might handle the assignment if he drew AJ Green, I would imagine that Lankster will initially draw this assignment or they'll just play a side each and let that dictate who they cover. You might think the 5'9" Lankster would be overmatched against the 6'4" Green, but the Jets did put Lankster on Tony Gonzalez last season, so perhaps they are confident that he is physical enough to overcome that. As Rex said "if [you] can cover that kid, [you] can cover them all." Lankster is a player who loves cover-0 and the challenge of matching up with top receivers, but it remains to be seen if that's how they'll employ him Saturday. Darrin Walls will probably see action on the outside too.

The Bengals are a team that doesn't use a base offense very often, so the Jets will probably be in the nickel or dime most of the time anyway. As an example, during their playoff game against the Chargers last year, the Bengals had three or more receivers on 61 of 81 plays. Although one of those receivers was often tight end Jermaine Gresham lining up out wide or in the slot, they still had 30 plays with four or five receivers.

It will be interesting to see what happens when the Jets go into the nickel. Ordinarily, Kyle Wilson would enter the game to come in and play the slot. However, could this be dictated by matchups? If the speedster Marvin Jones goes out wide and the possession receiver Mohamed Sanu drops into the slot, perhaps Wilson would go to the outside. And what if Gresham is in the game? Does Allen match up with him? I'd have thought that would be the ideal match-up for him.

It's not unheard of for one of the starting corners to come out of the game when the team goes into nickel packages either. One such team that does this? New England.

Conclusions

The team is being creative in terms of looking for solutions to the problems which blighted the secondary last season. In many respects, Saturday's game is a good test, but by the time the season starts we can probably expect to see a more traditional alignment. That doesn't mean Allen can't continue to be employed in man-to-man coverage situations to make use of his skills in that area.

Even if Saturday's experiment is an abject failure, that's not the end of the world for the Jets defense, who know they have Walls and Wilson - two players who have held their own when used as starters on the outside in the past - waiting in the wings. With any luck, projected starters Milliner and Patterson will be available by opening day too.

As Rex noted, Allen is still ascending, adding "especially at the safety position" which is still where his future probably lies. However, within that role they can employ him in man coverage as they already did last season and, in that regard, Saturday's experience will hopefully stand him in good stead.

I'm looking forward to this aspect of Saturday's game and if this makeshift secondary can hold its own better than the starters did in the blowout loss to the Bengals last season, that might add a couple more viable options for the Jets to lean on once they have a full complement of defensive backs available again.

Tags: avsny, bentdouble, BGA, Bent Double

Aug 12, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets cornerback Dexter McDougle (23) breaks up a pass intended for Tennessee Titans wide receiver Darius Jennings (15) during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)
Aug 12, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets cornerback Dexter McDougle (23) breaks up a pass intended for Tennessee Titans wide receiver Darius Jennings (15) during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)

This preseason, I'll be spotlighting an under-the-radar player who impressed me in each game and assessing that player's chances of making the team. Today, we'll look at one of the top performers in the Jets' 16-6 loss to the Lions, cornerback Dexter McDougle.

Who is he?

Tags: Dexter McDougle
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Aug 19, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) drops back to pass during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports (Tim Fuller)
Aug 19, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) drops back to pass during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports (Tim Fuller)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Remember all that progress that Christian Hackenberg appeared to make in the Jets' preseason opener? Well, by Week 2 it was gone.

Hackenberg, getting a surprise start over veteran Josh McCown, gave an ugly and unproductive performance in the Jets 16-6 loss to the Lions at Ford Field in Detroit. He was a miserable 2 of 6 for 14 yards, with both completions coming on dump-offs to running back Bilal Powell. In a full half of action he led the Jets to just two first downs and a total of 43 yards.

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Aug 19, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) drops back to pass to running back Bilal Powell (29) during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports (Tim Fuller)
Aug 19, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) drops back to pass to running back Bilal Powell (29) during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports (Tim Fuller)

Christian Hackenberg could only complete two passes, the Jets' defense failed to contain Matthew Stafford, and the Lions beat the Jets, 16-6, in the second preseason game.

Hackenberg was sacked twice and completed two of his six passes. During the Jets' opening drive, Hackenberg fumbled after he was hit by Detroit's Cornelius Washington, but the Jets recovered. Bryce Petty completed 15 of his 24 passes for 160 yards and threw an interception for the Jets, who were 4-for-13 on third down.

Myles White led the Jets in receiving with three catches for 43 yards, while Jordan Leggett hauled in two catches for 40 yards. Bilil Powell carried the ball nine times for 32 yards as the Jets were unable to get much going in the running game.

Darron Lee and Morris Clairbone had five tackles to lead the Jets on defense, while Demario Davis, Josh Martin, and Corey Lemonier each had a sack. >> Box score

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In the latest episode of The Jet Stream, Jonas Schwartz and Willie Colon look back at the eight sacks the Jets' D laid on the Tennessee Titans, as well as Christian Hackenberg's performance. Later, the guys discuss the wide receivers, offensive line, and their expectations for this week's matchup with the Detroit Lions.

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 (William Hauser)
(William Hauser)

Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson has become more of a vocal leader this season as he has taken it upon himself to fill that void in the locker room.

Linebacker David Harris was the voice in the Jets' locker room for years. Now that he is gone, Wilkerson is the next man in line and he is embracing the new role. 

"I've been here for a long time now," Wilkerson told The Post's Brian Costello, "I always looked up to older guys who are no longer here. I stepped into the footsteps into being a leader. I wasn't vocal [before], but I've always been a leader on this team. David Harris isn't here anymore, so I took it upon myself to speak up more and get out of my comfort zone." 

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 (Dennis Schneidler)
(Dennis Schneidler)

The Jets are undefeated, which at the moment is insignificant. But really, given all the predictions of doom and gloom, some people probably thought they wouldn't even end up with one preseason win.

They did, but it wasn't pretty (7-3 over the Tennessee Titans at home last Saturday), and they barely answered any of the many, many major question marks surrounding their season and long-term future. Maybe their game in Detroit against the Lions on Saturday night will provide a few more clues about the direction they're headed.

In the meantime, here are five things worth watching at Ford Field tonight:

Tags: Bilal Powell, Christian Hackenberg, Dylan Donahue, Robby Anderson, Ralph Vacchiano
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Daily News Live: Hack Attack 00:02:52
As the Jets get ready for their second preseason game, the panel discusses if a good game from Hackenberg can win him the starting job.

 

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JRSportBrief: NFL work stoppage? 00:01:54
In the latest installment of JRSportBrief on SNY.tv, JR talks about the idea of an NFL work stoppage in a few years.

In the latest installment of JRSportBrief on SNY.tv, JR talks about the idea of an NFL work stoppage in a few years.

 

 

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New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown watches as quarterback Christian Hackenberg warms up before a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Jets quarterback Josh McCown watches as quarterback Christian Hackenberg warms up before a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

While New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles did name a starting quarterback for Saturday's preseason game against the Detroit Lions, he is expected to give Josh McCown more playing time.

McCown, who did not get receive any reps at Thursday's practice when the Jets did game-plan prep, according to ESPN's Rich Cimini, played the opening drive last week in New York's 7-3 win over the Tennessee Titans, but Christian Hackenberg then played the following eight possessions.

Bowles said he didn't anticipate any lineup changes, but left the door open to it by saying, "we'll discuss it."

Tags: Christian Hackenberg, Detroit Lions, Josh McCown
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New York Jets outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin in action against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the preseason game at MetLife Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin in action against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the preseason game at MetLife Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)

New York Jets linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin tweaked his back and sat out practice Thursday, leaving him uncertain for the preseason game at Detroit on Saturday night.

Mauldin had been dealing with a back issue earlier during training camp, but returned to the field Wednesday. Coach Todd Bowles said the third-year linebacker was inside receiving treatment during practice Thursday.

Bowles added that he was unsure how long Mauldin would be sidelined, but said that he would likely not play against the Lions.

Tags: Bilal Powell, Detroit Lions, Lorenzo Mauldin, Matt Forte, Quincy Enunwa
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GEICO SportsNite: Jets camp 00:03:01
Jeane Coakley talks to Muhammad Wilkerson about being one of the older, vocal leaders in the locker room at Jets camp.

 

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Daily News Live: Bowles' future 00:04:48
The Daily News Live panel discusses what Todd Bowles can do to save his job and if he is the right coach to lead a rebuilding effort.

 

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 (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Looking to gain a physical edge on the field, Jets linebacker Darron Lee gained nine pounds heading into training camp. 

Lee, who was 227 pounds after minicamp ended, is now 236 at training camp. 

"On my conditioning test, everybody was like, 'You look noticeably bigger,'" Lee said, according to the New York Daily News. "Hey, I put in that work."

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Bowles rewards team during camp 00:02:29
Jeane Coakley and Ralph Vacchiano report from Florham Park where Todd Bowles allowed his team to remove pads during practice on Wednesday.

 

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 (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
(Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

Jets linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin showed up to a Manhattan court on Wednesday for his alleged assault of a Queens man, but the case has been delayed because prosecution wasn't ready to file paper work, according to multiple reports

Mauldin had turned himself in to authorities in late June for his alleged role in the nightclub attack that took place on April 2. The New York Post reported on June 21 that Mauldin had been charged with misdemeanor assault, which carries a maximum sentence of year in jail.

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New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles answers questions from media at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles answers questions from media at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV:

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - In the wake of the ugly riots in Charlottesville, Va., there's a possibility that more NFL players will decline to stand for the national anthem during preseason games this weekend, joining a protest started by Colin Kaepernick last year. So far there's no indication any Jets players will join them.

But if they do, their coach will have their back.

"We don't have a rule book on what's right to protest and not protest," Bowles said at Jets training camp on Wednesday. "You don't know those things until the course of time, whether it's sitting for the anthem, whether it's raising your fist, wither it's speaking out, a walk to Washington -- who's to say whose protest is good or bad?"

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New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) throws a pass against the Tennessee Titans during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) throws a pass against the Tennessee Titans during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV:

John Morton seemed to like everything he saw with Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg on Saturday night. He liked his poise, his decisiveness, the decisions he made. It was clearly a step in the right direction.

But was it a big step toward Hackenberg getting the starting job?

That's a question that Morton, the Jets new offensive coordinator, wasn't willing to answer on Tuesday. In fact, Morton made it sound like Hackenberg still has a long ways to go.

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Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Lucky Whitehead (13) during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Cowboys won 35-10. (Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports)
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Lucky Whitehead (13) during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Cowboys won 35-10. (Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports)

Jets WR Lucky Whitehead, who suffered a broken foot during Monday's practice, will have surgery for the injury, head coach Todd Bowles said on Wednesday.

Prior to deciding on surgery, Whitehead was expected to miss four-to-six weeks, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano confirmed.

Whitehead joined the Jets after he was released by the Cowboys on July 24. He returend two punts and a kickoff in the Jets' preseason opener. Serving primarily as a returner, he caught three passes for 48 yards for the Cowboys in 2016.

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GEICO SportsNite: Jets camp 00:01:46
Jeane Coakley reports from Jets camp, where Todd Bowles was pleased with his team's response to his criticism.

 

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Jets Training Camp report 00:01:37
SNY's Jeane Coakley reports from Jets training camp where head coach Todd Bowles was not pleased with the team's most recent practice.

 

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New York Jets running back Matt Forte is tackled by Miami Dolphins corner back Tony Lippett during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Jets running back Matt Forte is tackled by Miami Dolphins corner back Tony Lippett during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Jets running back Matt Forte is missing time in the preseason and training camp due to a hamstring injury for the second year in a row, but told NJ.com's JJ Conrad he feels he is close to returning to the field.

"I'm feeling good, but not good enough to be in full practice yet," Forte said to Conrad on Monday. "I'm just going through what the trainers tell me, easing back in. I don't want to go back out there immediately and get injured again."

Forte, who did not play in Saturday's 7-3 win over the Tennessee Titans in the Jets' preseason opener, said he the trainers are being cautious with him given the nature of hamstring injuries and the fact the veteran running back underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus at the end of last season.

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Oct 17, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; General view of a New York Jets helmet during the game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports (Matt Kartozian)
Oct 17, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; General view of a New York Jets helmet during the game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports (Matt Kartozian)

The Jets have signed undrafted rookie WR Daniel Williams, and waived WR Deshon Foxx, per SNY's Ralph Vacchiano. 

Williams spent time with the Oakland Raiders after going undrafted out of Jackson State (Miss.). Standing at 6-foot-2, 234 pounds, he totaled 184 receptions for 2,497 yards and 19 touchdowns in four years at college. 

Foxx went undrafted as well out of UConn in 2016. He spent time on the Seattle Seahawks practice squad before joining the Jets this offseason. The Jets waived him on May 9, but eventually resigned him on May 22. 

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New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) watches as quarterback Josh McCown (15) warms up before a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) watches as quarterback Josh McCown (15) warms up before a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

With Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty still early in their NFL careers, Josh McCown is taking a leadership and mentorship role at quarterback in his first season with the Jets. 

"Every quarterback goes out there and they want to finish each drive with a touchdown, so when those things are happening, there is kind of an inner fight of, man, do I need to do more?" McCown said, according to Newsday. "Things happen and you get kind of delayed, but the fight as a quarterback is to stay in the system, stay within the game and don't be greedy and force the ball. So my hat is off to both of them for not doing that."

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg
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SNY's Jonas Schwartz and former NFL guard Willie Colon are live from Jets training camp in Florham Park. The guys open the show with SNY Jets reporter Jeane Coakley to discuss the biggest storylines from camp. Then, they welcome in tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who opens up about the troubled start to his NFL career, and how he is a changed man. Later, rookie safety Marcus Maye joins the show to give his thoughts on his first NFL training camp, and how he is adjusting to life in the New York area.

Click below to listen

 

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins
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Atlanta Falcons free safety Robenson Therezie returns a pass interception against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second quarter at the Georgia Dome. (Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports)
Atlanta Falcons free safety Robenson Therezie returns a pass interception against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second quarter at the Georgia Dome. (Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports)

The Jets signed former Atlanta Falcons defensive back Robenson Therezie after safety Doug Middleton reportedly suffered a torn pec.

Therezie, a 26-year-old free safety, recorded one interception, two passes defensed and 36 combined tackles in 25 games with Atlanta over the past two seasons. He was an undrafted free agent out of Auburn.

Middleton, who was competing for a backup role with New York, recorded six combined tackles and one pass defensed in four games as a Jet last season. He suffered the injury in the fourth quarter in Saturday's 7-3 preseason win over the Tennessee Titans and is expected to undergo surgery, according to the New York Daily News' Manish Mehta.

The Jets also announced they waived fullback Algernon Brown, who appeared in eight offensive plays and two plays on special teams on Saturday. He recorded 1,310 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns in four seasons with BYU.

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Jets WR Anderson on Hackenberg 00:01:31
Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson chats with SNY's Jeane Coakley about the Jets' preseason win over the Tennessee Titans.

 

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This preseason, I'll be spotlighting an under-the-radar player who impressed me in each game and assessing that player's chances of making the team.  Today we'll look at defensive lineman Claude Pelon, who was one of the top performers in the Jets' 7-3 win over the Titans in the preseason opener.

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Aug 12, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) throws a pass against the Tennessee Titans during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)
Aug 12, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) throws a pass against the Tennessee Titans during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The last time anybody saw Christian Hackenberg in a game was the preseason finale almost a year ago. It was a disaster. He completed just 11 of 31 passes for 54 yards and threw an interception, too.

It was a much, much different and better Hackenberg that the Jets got to see on Saturday night.

Tags: Christian Hackenberg, Ralph Vacchiano
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Aug 12, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Alex Tanney (11) is sacked by New York Jets linebacker Julian Stanford (51) during the second quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Aug 12, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Alex Tanney (11) is sacked by New York Jets linebacker Julian Stanford (51) during the second quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Josh McCown threw the Jets' first touchdown of the preseason and the team's defense tallied eight sacks in a 7-3 win over the Titans on Saturday at MetLife Stadium.

The Jets kept the Titans out of the endzone for the duration of the game, allowing only a field goal on a five-play, 49-yard drive in the third quarter. 

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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The good news is the Jets really have no choice but to play most of their starters in their preseason opener. Or maybe that's the bad news given the low expectations for this team.

But Jets GM Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles have promised competition all summer long for almost every job on the roster, and the competition begins for real against the Tennessee Titans at the Meadowlands on Saturday night. Not all jobs are up for grabs, of course, but quite a few are.

Here's an inside look at some of the battles and 10 intriguing players to watch:

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Chris Harper, Christian Hackenberg, Juston Burris, Ralph Vacchiano
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