Earlier this week, the Jets signed free agent wide receiver/return specialist Joshua Cribbs to their active roster. Unlike some of the recent signings they've made, Cribbs is a fairly well-known player, but he is now into his thirties so it will be interesting to try and assess what he has left in the tank. We've therefore been looking at game footage in detail to investigate what he could bring to the table.

The 30-year old Cribbs is a 6'1", 215 pound receiver who was an undrafted free agent in 2005 out of Kent State. He is best known for his kick returning abilities, which have seen him make three Pro Bowls and be named as an All-Pro on two occasions. His eight career kickoff returns for a touchdown have him tied for the NFL's all-time record and he has also caught over 100 passes in his eight NFL seasons. However, he's been dealing with some knee issues recently and this led to him being cut by the Browns and then also by the Raiders, who he had signed with in May.

After the jump, a review of Cribbs' career and observations from having looked at film from the last few seasons to evaluate some of his strengths and weaknesses.

Who is Josh Cribbs?

Josh Cribbs was an undrafted free agent in 2005 having played quarterback for Kent State. After signing with the Cleveland Browns, Cribbs made an immediate impact as a kick returner in his rookie season, averaging 24.5 yards per return and scoring one touchdown to earn himself a six-year contract extension.

He continued to put up good kick return numbers in his second season and then also took over as the team's punt returner in 2007, leading the NFL in all-purpose yardage. While he had been used sparingly on offense over his first three seasons (11 carries, 14 catches) they increased his role in 2008 as he carried the ball 29 times for 167 yards - often out of the wildcat formation. The following year, he caught 20 passes, which was more than he had achieved in the first four years combined and had a career high 381 rushing yards. In 2010 and 2011 he didn't have as much success as a runner but improved on his receiving numbers, peaking at 41 catches for 518 yards and four touchdowns in 2011. However, last year he did not see much action on offense and with the Raiders in preseason he was solely used as a kick returner.

The Numbers

Eight seasons

124 games

31 starts

107 catches, 1,161 yards, seven touchdowns

10.9 yards per catch

63% catch rate (last five seasons only)

10 drops

128-753-2TD rushing (5.9 average)

4-12-45-INT passing, sacked twice

Career kick return average 25.9 with eight touchdowns

Career punt return average 11.0 with three touchdowns

34 career fumbles (9 lost) - Four as a receiver, three as a runner, one as a passer, nine as a kickoff returner, 17 as a punt returner

103 career tackles, including 92 on special teams

23 20+ yard plays (17 as a receiver, six as a rusher) and two 40+ yard plays (both as a receiver)

34 40+ yard kickoff returns and eight 40+ yard punt returns

Observations

Based on all the footage watched, here was what Cribbs brings to the table, divided into categories:

Usage - Obviously Cribbs has been used in a variety of ways, eventually developing into more or less a full time wide receiver (playing 52% of the snaps in 2011). However, in 2012 his non-special teams work diminished and he played just 63 snaps, most of which were at the wide receiver position. He did take five snaps as a wildcat quarterback though. When lined up at receiver, he was primarily on the outside, playing in the slot just over 10% of the time in 2011.

Deep threat - Cribbs hasn't been that productive on downfield throws, catching five of 23 passes thrown 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage in the past five years per PFF. He has been able to get deep for some big plays, as seen in the examples here and here, although the first of those was more of a coverage breakdown and the second was over three years ago. He was not targeted more than 20 yards downfield in 2012.

Blocking - For a converted quarterback, Cribbs is a surprisingly good blocker. He actually graded out as the third best blocking wide receiver in the NFL in 2009. The Browns often used bunch formations or motioned him onto the tight end's shoulder and he did a good job of driving linebackers to the inside or making blocks at the second level by hustling and being physical.

Routes - Browns fans grew frustrated with Cribbs' "sloppy route running" as the Browns used him more and more in a receiver role and that may have factored into his drop in playing time last year. From what I saw, he was most effective when running a go route or a crossing route, but anything that required a change of direction was more hit and miss. He also sometimes allowed cornerbacks to get physical with him in press coverage to prevent him from getting where he wanted to go.

Hands - Although he has a respectable catch rate and only 10 drops in the last five seasons, Cribbs' hands can be very inconsistent, some of which were due to poor concentration. The catch rate is artificially inflated by the number of short passes they throw him. That includes 20 screen passes for 172 yards over the past four years. With that said, he is capable of making athletic catches by going up to get it or laying out to make a diving grab like this one. Fumbles are a concern, as he's racked up 34 over the course of his career, although a good proportion of these were muffed kick or punt returns that he recovered himself.

Instincts - As a runner, his instincts are terrific. However, when playing wide receiver, he lacks experience and this can affect things like adjusting his route in response to the coverage or reacting to a quick pass when he's the hot read.

Yards after the catch - Clearly this is an area where Cribbs' return skills can be utilized and that has proven to be the case. His highest rank was 6th in the league for YAC per reception in 2010 and has always been well above average statistically. He forced 10 missed tackles on 41 catches in 2011.

Special Teams - Cribbs' special teams contributions are not just confined to the return game. He's also capable of being extremely productive in kick coverage and as a punt gunner. He is a solid open field tackler, missing just two tackles since 2009. However, it's in the return game where he shines brightest. His 2012 numbers were really good (27.4 yards per kick return and 12.0 per punt return) but his most recent body of work in preseason was underwhelming. On seven returns, his longest was 27 yards and he lost a fumble.

Demeanor - Brady Quinn this week described Cribbs as a "tremendous teammate". By all accounts, he has a good attitude and is a hard worker. There was a minor controversy in terms of a contract dispute and a dissatisfaction with his playing time last year, but no serious off-field issues.

Injuries - Cribbs' knee was obviously a problem, because the Jets and Cardinals both balked at the chance of signing him back in May. However, they are apparently satisfied he's good to go now. Until then, he'd been fortunate in terms of injuries, missing just two games since his rookie season and four overall.

Conclusions

It's a testament to Cribbs' athletic skills that he was able to be so productive as a receiver despite the fact that he is clearly very raw technically, but I'm always impressed by guys that will hustle, make an effort as a blocker and fight for yardage. The question now becomes whether there's any realistic chance of him being able to be that kind of player again or is he past his use-by date?

Based on how he was used in preseason and his diminishing offensive role last year, my expectation would be that the main reason the Jets brought in Cribbs was simply to return kicks with both Mike Goodson and Clyde Gates headed to injured reserve.

However, the Jets' offense is designed to get its playmakers the ball in space and Cribbs is capable of being exactly the kind of playmaker that could thrive in such situations. While I don't anticipate a main-rotation role for Cribbs on offense (unless there are even more injuries at the wideout position), I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the Jets install some special packages which involve him, even if only for a couple of snaps a game.

Failing that, they needed a reliable kick returner and Cribbs has been exactly that (and usually more) even as recently as last year. Let's hope he can contribute well to the Jets' return game where - let's face it - he doesn't have much to live up to if he's going to provide any kind of an upgrade.

Note: The Jets also added wide receiver Greg Salas this week, but since he's injured, we'll delay his BGA until next weekend.

Some stats from PFF were used in the completion of this article.

Tags: BGA, Bent Double

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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.

 

Tags: Christian Hackenberg
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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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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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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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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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Jeane Coakley reports from Jets camp, where Todd Bowles was pleased with his team's response to his criticism.

 

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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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 (Noah K. Murray)
(Noah K. Murray)

Some of the Jets' newest additions, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins and S Marcus Maye, had high praise for their new head coach, Todd Bowles. 

Both appeared on SNY's The Jet Stream podcast, and when asked who is most impactful to the Jets this season, Seferian-Jenkins showed love to his coach. 

"I would definitely say, first of all, coach Bowles," Seferian-Jenkins told SNY's Jonas Schwartz and Willie Colon. "I never had a coach like that, that really just says a real, honest thing. Just tells you the truth. He doesn't want to lie to you, he doesn't want to sugarcoat anything. I think he's a phenomenal coach."

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins
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GEICO SportsNite: Jets camp 00:02:31
Jeane Coakley reports from Jets training camp to preview their first preseason game of the 2017-18 season on Saturday, August 12.

 

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New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) warms up before a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) warms up before a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - The memories of Christian Hackenberg from last season are few and not very good. He had two ugly preseason performances and then was buried on the depth chart, only resurfacing to occasionally misfire in practice. His future didn't appear bright at all.

That's why all eyes will be on Hackenberg when the Jets open up their preseason slate against the Tennesssee Titans at the Meadowlands on Saturday night.

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Jets training camp 00:01:42
Jeane Coakley breaks down the latest news and updates from Jets camp as they get ready for their first preseason game on Saturday.

 

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

Jets corner Buster Skrine thinks this year's secondary will not only be an improvement over last year's but that the group also has the potential to stand out. 

"This is my seventh year in the NFL and this is one of the most aggressive groups I've been around - and confident," Skrine said, according to Newsday.

Tags: Buster Skrine
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