The Jets this week announced the signing of former Duke WR Eron Riley to their active roster. Riley had been on the Broncos practice squad since this time last year, so the Jets must - by rule - keep him on the active roster for at least three weeks.

I've gone back and looked at preseason footage of Riley over the last three seasons to try and get some idea of what he brings to the table and what this could mean over the next few weeks and beyond.

Background

Riley went to Duke and started 40 games for them, catching over 140 passes at almost 17 yards per catch. He even managed to set a few school records. A big target with good hands and terrific athletic ability, Riley was unlucky not to be drafted, as many sites had him rated as a late round pick. One thing that may have counted against him was his arrest in 2008, when a policeman apparently saw him hit someone at a bar.

After going undrafted in 2009, Riley joined the Baltimore Ravens but didn't make the active roster. However, he was back in 2010 to compete for a roster spot, having spend the 2009 season on the practice squad. He again failed to make the team and was on the practice squad for a couple of teams before the Broncos put him on their practice squad last October. He was signed for the 2011 season and played for them in preseason, but was cut and placed on the practice squad before the regular season began. The Jets picked him up this week.

Riley is 6-foot-3, but only 207 pounds according to his officially listed NFL weight. However, that was his combine weight back in 2009 and I expect one of the reasons the Broncos had him on their practice squad was to bulk him up, so it's unlikely he hasn't put any weight on since then. He has some enticing Pro Day numbers, including 4.29 for the 40-yard dash, a 40-inch vertical and an 11-foot-2 broad jump, underlining his athletic potential.

The Numbers

In three preseason campaigns, Riley was targeted 17 times. These were all in the fourth quarter, apart from one in his rookie season that was in the last minute of the third. He caught a total of 11 passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns. Even if you omit his longest gain (an 89-yarder), that's still over 20 yards per catch. He also had one special teams tackle.

Pass Catching

In his rookie season, Riley was targeted six times. Three were incomplete and one was a 10-yard gain. Unfortunately footage of these four plays was unavailable.

In the final preseason game of his rookie year, Riley made an impact with two big catches on the same drive, late in their game with Atlanta. He was going up against Chris Owens, who at the time was also a rookie but is now Atlanta's number three cornerback, playing regularly in the NFL (109 snaps this year).

- Riley went deep down the sideline and caught a 47-yard pass. The ball was underthrown and he had to slow down and wait on it, otherwise it would have been a touchdown.

- Riley ran a comeback route and made a leaping catch. As he landed, he made a nice move to avoid Owens' tackle and then dived in between two defenders to get into the endzone for a 15-yard score.

In the first preseason game of 2010, Riley was targeted once:

- Riley ran a quick slant with the defender playing off him. He looked like he had a chance to slip between two defenders for a first down and maybe more, but unfortunately he was unable to make the catch on what looked like a well thrown ball.

He didn't contribute again until the fourth game against the Rams where he was targeted three times:

- On third and ten, he found a gap in the zone 25 yards downfield, but Troy Smith overthrew him by about ten yards.

- He ran a quick slant, caught the ball and then avoided a tackle and ran right across field for extra yardage, eventually falling forward for a 19-yard gain.

- With eight seconds left, the Ravens were down six at their own 45. Riley ran a comeback route, leapt to catch the ball on the sideline for 14 and stepped out of bounds.

After joining the Broncos in 2011, Riley caught all three passes thrown his way in the first preseason game against Dallas:

- Riley came back to the ball and caught it downfield, then turned upfield and made a couple of extra yards, for 17 overall.

- He dodged the jam at the line and got a step on his man on a skinny post route, securing the catch over the middle for 19.

- With the ball at the 8, he was initially covered, but found some space at the back of the endzone and made a leaping grab, landing with both feet just in bounds.

After missing the second game, he was targeted once against the Seahawks:

- On third and 13, he made like he was going to run deep, then stopped on a dime and turned around for the ball. Had he caught it, he'd have had a chance to get the first down because the man covering him was about ten yards off him. Unfortunately, it was batted down at the line.

In the last game against the Rams, he made a huge impact. He was going up against Fred Bennett who is currently not on a roster but has started 18 games and picked off five passes in the NFL since being drafted in 2007:

- Ran a comeback route and caught a pass for a 12 yard gain.

- Ran a go-route and burned his man easily for a 43-yard score.

- Made a juggling catch on the outside as the man covering him made a despairing dive, then cut back across the field to avoid a tackler at the 25 and raced down the sideline, finally getting knocked out of bounds inside the five for an 89-yard gain. Marshay Green had the angle to make the tackle, but his speed down the sideline was impressive.

Blocking

In the footage I saw, Riley was never really asked to do anything other than block downfield. He played to the whistle, but they rarely ran the ball in his direction. I read a comment on a Broncos blog that said he was too lightweight to block effectively in their system, but I didn't really see enough of him to make an assessment either way.

Special Teams

Riley saw some time on the punt return unit as a punt rusher, but was easily handled by his blocker on the few examples I looked at. He also seemed to lack blocking instincts in open space. I also saw him get some reps as a punt gunner. Again, he didn't seem to be physical enough to get downfield. The one tackle he had was on a play where he was blocked away from the return man, but the returner slipped and Riley put a hand on him to make him down by contact.

Riley did return 11 kicks in college for a 23.3 yard average, but was unable to beat out any of the return men they had in Baltimore or Denver to even get a shot at returning one in a preseason game.

Miscellaneous

I did not see any signs of cockiness from Riley in any of the footage I watched. One concern may be durability though. As noted, he hurt his calf after one of the above catches and I also note that he injured his arm in practice and missed time with the Broncos and had leg and hand injuries while at college.

Conclusions

As we've learned from David Clowney, major preseason production late in games, doesn't necessarily mean that you're ready to contribute at the NFL level. However, Clowney did have his moments, so if Riley joins the team as a 4th or 5th receiver, perhaps they can get something from him.

From what I've seen, I don't think he's likely to contribute much on special teams, so they've brought him aboard for his receiving ability. As a receiver, he seemed much more impressive than when I scouted Mardy Gilyard, who did look good as a special teamer. This could be a warning shot to Patrick Turner or just a temporary move to get a look at him for a few weeks while they wait for Logan Payne to get healthy.

In terms of that receiving ability, what impressed me was his ability to get separation. Yes, burning guys deep and making yards after the catch is always impressive, but Riley seemed to have a knack of getting open on comebackers and slants. Since I've been watching a lot of footage of Jets receivers not getting separation over the last few weeks, that could be something that he brings to the table that could get him on the field.

Tags: BGA, Bent Double

 (Eric Hartline)
(Eric Hartline)

The Jets' new linebackers coach, Hall of Famer Kevin Greene, is looking to instill more aggression and power in his players, especially LB Lorenzo Mauldin.

The 25-year-old has shown spurts of potential in two seasons with the Jets, but his 2.5 sacks last season isn't the production they had expected. Greene intends to change that, and he told NJ.com's Darryl Slater why he uses this specific approach to his coaching. 

"Everybody at this level has skill, correct?" Greene said. "They'rea ll athletic, and agility and dexterity and all that stuff. Well, what separates people initially is their physical level of play. That's always our first step, is we have to play more physical than whoever is in front of us, because we're all athletic." 

Tags: Lorenzo Mauldin
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A pass intended for New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson is broken up by Buffalo Bills cornerbacks Corey White and Kevon Seymour during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
A pass intended for New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson is broken up by Buffalo Bills cornerbacks Corey White and Kevon Seymour during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com

Projected starters: Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson

Projected backups: Jalin Marshall, Charone Peake, ArDarius Stewart, Chad Hansen

Tags: Brandon Marshall, Charone Peake, Eric Decker, Jalin Marshall, Quincy Enunwa
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New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) watches from the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner)
New York Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg (5) watches from the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com

Preseason Stats: 17-for-47, 159 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, 1-15 rushing, one fumble

Regular Season Stats: Did Not Play

Tags: Christian Hackenberg
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Part 2 of Jets mini-camp 00:02:01
SNY delivers part 2 of an all-access behind-the-scenes recap of New York Jets minicamp, including the sights and sounds from Florham Park.

SNY delivers an all-access behind the scenes recap of Jets minicamp, including all the sights and sounds from Florham Park.

Click here to watch Part 1

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Behind the scenes at Jets camp 00:01:48
SNY delivers an all-access behind the scenes recap of Jets minicamp, including all the sights and sounds from Florham Park.

SNY delivers an all-access behind the scenes recap of Jets minicamp, including all the sights and sounds from Florham Park.

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New York Jets owner Woody Johnson before the preseason game at MetLife Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta)
New York Jets owner Woody Johnson before the preseason game at MetLife Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta)

President Donald Trump plans to nominate Jets' owner Woody Johnson as the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom, the team confirmed on Thursday.

In the case that Johnson is nominated and confirmed by the US Senate, he would hand over his duties as Chairman and CEO to his brother, Christopher Johnson, who will directly oversee the team's day-to-day operations.

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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

Jets DE Sheldon Richardson says head coach Todd Bowles has been more strict than in the past, per Darryl Slater of NJ.com. 

Bowles has been left with a young team following the Jets' roster purge that including veterans like C Nick Mangold and LB David Harris. With his job possibly in jeopardy, he has been putting emphasis on working harder.

"It's completely different from the last couple years," Richardson said at minicamp. "A lot more strict now. We weren't loose [in the past], but it's a lot more strict now. It's even more enforced than what it has been in the past."

Tags: Brandon Marshall, David Harris, Muhammad Wilkerson, Nick Mangold, Sheldon Richardson
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 (Noah K. Murray)
(Noah K. Murray)

Jets LB Lorenzo Mauldin turned himself in to authorities Wednesday morning in Manhattan for his alleged role in a nightclub attack that took place on April 2, according to TMZ Sports.

Mauldin, who is also being sued in civil court, was not arrested or charged after the incident. The Jets said earlier this month that they're aware of the lawsuit but had no further comment.

An NFL spokesman told ESPN's Rich Cimini that the league is looking into the incident. 

Tags: Lorenzo Mauldin
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 (Timothy T. Ludwig)
(Timothy T. Ludwig)

Former Jets LB David Harris has agreed to a two-year deal with the New England Patriots worth $6.75 million, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

The Patriots offered Harris more than the Jets offered him earlier this month prior to his release, reports Mike Florio of NBC Sports.

Harris visited with the Patriots on Wednesday after speaking with head coach Bill Belichick (and coaches from five other teams) earlier this week, notes Florio.

Tags: David Harris
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Los Angeles Rams former and Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Kevin Greene attends a NFL football game at between the Miami Dolphins and the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Kirby Lee)
Los Angeles Rams former and Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Kevin Greene attends a NFL football game at between the Miami Dolphins and the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Kirby Lee)

The Jets were one of the worst pass-rushing teams in the NFL last year, finishing the season wtih just 27 sacks, and only 5.5 of them coming from the team's outside linebackers.

Todd Bowles brought in former NFL linebacker Kevin Greene as New York's new linebackers coach, and Greene has already expressed optimism towards his young group of players.

"The sky's the limit for all my kids," Greene told Daniel Popper of the Daily News. "I'm teaching my kids technique and fundamentals not based on athletic ability and skill. It's based on physicality. It's based on drive and desire and want-to and being a student of the game. ... All my kids can really be as good they want to be."

Tags: Darron Lee, Jordan Jenkins
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 (Mike Dinovo)
(Mike Dinovo)

The Jets have signed former Bears WR Marquess Wilson, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Wilson only played in three games last season as he was on the IR with a broken foot. He is a big target, standing at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, and will add some competition before training camp begins.

In four seasons with the Bears, Wilson played in 31 games, hauling in 56 receptions for 777 yards and 3 touchdowns. 

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 (Dennis Schneidler)
(Dennis Schneidler)

The Jets new running backs coach, Stump Mitchell, believes RB Bilal Powell has Pro Bowl ability, according to ESPN's Rich Cimini. 

Mitchell has been impressed with Powell since joining the Jets this season, and he thinks if he didn't have to share time with another back, he has would attain Pro Bowl status. 

"Bilal is a Pro Bowl back if he was playing by himself, make no doubt about that," Mitchell said at minicamp.

Tags: Bilal Powell
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Jacksonville Jaguars running back Chris Ivory is tackled by New York Jets outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins during the first quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Chris Ivory is tackled by New York Jets outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins during the first quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com

Projected Starters: Jordan Jenkins, Lorenzo Mauldin

Projected Backups: Dylan Donahue, Josh Martin

Tags: Deion Barnes, Jordan Jenkins, Lorenzo Mauldin, Mike Catapano, Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson
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GEICO SportsNite: Jets minicamp 00:02:24
Quarterback Christian Hackenberg and defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson break down Jets minicamp and their expectations for the season.

Quarterback Christian Hackenberg and Defensive Lineman Sheldon Richardson break down Jets minicamp and their expectations for the season.

Tags: Christian Hackenberg, Sheldon Richardson
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Former Jets LB Larry Grantham dies at age 78: Larry Grantham, a member of the Jets' only Super Bowl team in 1969, died on Tuesday at the age of 78. Apart from being a Super Bowl Champion, Grantham has been enshrined in the Jets Ring of Honor as well. 

Elsewhere in New York sports the Mets dropped a slugfest to the Dodgers, the Yankees lose their top prospect to injury, and the NBA draft is just two days away. 

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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

The Jets' roster purge and commitment to begin rebuilding this season earned them a "C+" offseason grade, per ESPN's Rich Cimini.

As the offseason is normally used to rebuild rosters, the Jets tore theirs down thanks to move made by owner Woody Johnson. Among the roster cuts were LB David Harris and WR Eric Decker, which saved the Jets almost $14 million in payroll alone. C Nick Mangold and CB Darrelle Revis were also part of the 11 veterans the Jets go rid of this offseason. 

Cimini said the grade should be worse considering the Jets now have one of the worst rosters in the NFL, but looking at the big picture, the Jets are acknowledging their rebuild and will have $80 million to work with next offseason.

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New York Jets running back Bilal Powell leaps over Miami Dolphins safety Isa Abdul-Quddus during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Jets running back Bilal Powell leaps over Miami Dolphins safety Isa Abdul-Quddus during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com

Projected Starter: Matt Forte

Projected Backups: Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire

Tags: Bilal Powell, Matt Forte
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GEICO SportsNite: Larry Grantham 00:00:26
Michelle Yu reports on the passing of former Jets linebacker Larry Grantham, a member of the Jets Ring of Honor, who was 78 years old.

The Jets announced former LB Larry Grantham, a Ring of Honor member and Super Bowl III champion, has died at age 78.

Grantham opted to join the AFL's New York Titans despite being drafted in the NFL by the Baltimore Colts in 1960. The Titans became the Jets in 1963, and Grantham would stay with them until his retirement in 1972. 

He was the starting linebacker for the Jets' Super Bowl III championship team where he called all the plays on defense. Grantham played in 175 career games, and was a five-time AFL All-Star and a five-time all-NFL selection. 

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GEICO SportsNite: Jets receivers 00:01:37
Jeane Coakley talks to Quincy Enunwa to discuss his expectations for himself and the young receivers for the upcoming season.

SNY's Jeane Coakley talks to Quincy Enunwa after the conclusion of Jets minicamp to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.

Tags: Quincy Enunwa
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Former Jets wide receiver signed a deal with the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.  (Bill Wippert/AP)
Former Jets wide receiver signed a deal with the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. (Bill Wippert/AP)

Former Jets wide receiver Eric Decker is now a Tennessee Titan after agreeing to a deal on Sunday. 

Elsewhere, Jacob deGrom homers, the Yankees drop their sixth straight, Bradley Wright-Phillips scores twice and the Rangers, Islanders and Devils announce their protected players list ahead of the NHL Expansion Draft. 

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Eric Decker (Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports)
Eric Decker (Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports)

Former Jets wide receiver Eric Decker agreed to a contract with the Tennessee Titans, the team announced Sunday.

Decker, 30, played 33 games with the Jets over the past three seasons, totaling 163 catches, 2,183 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns.

Decker had appeared healthy entering organized team activities in May after he missed 13 games last season due to rotator cuff and hip injuries.

New York released him last Monday when they were unable to find a trading partner. The Jets will face a $1.5 million cap hit this year and next after releasing Decker.

Tags: Eric Decker, Tennessee Titans
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 (Ed Mulholland)
(Ed Mulholland)

RB Matt Forte says the Jets aren't tanking the season, despite the fact that they've cut the majority of their veteran players this offseason.

"It's a good thing we don't operate off of what the fans think and what everybody on the outside thinks," Forte said, according to The Record. "What we think as a team, that's what's going to happen. And none of us on the team think that we're going to tank. So all I have to say about that is: Bring it."

The Jets, who went 5-11 last season, have cut Brandon MarshallEric DeckerDavid HarrisDarrelle RevisNick MangoldNick Folk, and Breno Giacomini since the season ended. They also declined their option on Ryan Clady.

Tags: Matt Forte
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 (Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)
(Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - It's really quite an accomplishment for the Jets to come off a disappointing and perhaps disastrous 5-11 season and find a way to get worse. But they did it. They purged their roster of most of their veterans and replaced them with untested, unknown players. They're playing the long game, even though their short term looks rather bleak.

Who knows if they're "tanking" with their eyes on a top draft pick next season? Maybe they're just acknowledging the need to experience short-term pain for long-term gain. Whatever it is, there isn't a lot of hope for the 2017 season. Their eyes are on 2018, or perhaps beyond.

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Rookie Marcus Maye on minicamp 00:01:51
SNY's Jeane Coakley chats with Jets rookie safety Marcus Maye about his first minicamp in the NFL.

SNY's Jeane Coakley chats with Jets rookie safety Marcus Maye about his first minicamp in the NFL.

The Jets selected Maye in the second round of Apri's NFL Draft.

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Jets quarterbacks practice during minicamp on Wednesday. (Julio Cortez/AP)
Jets quarterbacks practice during minicamp on Wednesday. (Julio Cortez/AP)

Jets coach Todd Bowles said Thursday there is no frontrunner for the srarting quarterback job. 

Elsewhere, the Yankees lose in extra innings, Juan Lagares is injurede in a Mets loss and the Giants ink their first-round pick. 

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GEICO SportsNite: Jets 00:02:10
Jeane Coakley talks to Jets coach Todd Bowles as they wrap up spring practices about the quarterback competition and the rookie safeties.

Jeane Coakley talks to Jets coach Todd Bowles as they wrap up spring practices about the quarterback competition and the rookie safeties.


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

Jets DE Sheldon Richardson wants to stay with the team for the rest of his caeer, but is not open to giving a hometown discount. 

The Jets, who finished 5-11 last season, are entering a rebuilding phase. But Richardson wants to be a part of it.

"A lot of guys just want to go jump on a bandwagon," Richardson told Manish Mehta of the NY Daily News earlier this week. "Older guys. Later in their career, it's easy to go jump into a good situation. It's a free market, so by all means, do your thing. But me personally, I like to make history, not be a part of it."

Tags: Sheldon Richardson
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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

Jets head coach Todd Bowles insinuated the team's starting QB is job still up for grabs, noting Thursday that there is currently no frontrunner.

The Jets, who are expected to turn to Josh McCown as their starter, have also been giving reps to Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty.

McCown, 37, signed a one-year deal worth $6 million this offseason.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg
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New York Jets inside linebacker Demario Davis (56) comes away with a fumble recovery during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. (Steven Ryan)
New York Jets inside linebacker Demario Davis (56) comes away with a fumble recovery during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. (Steven Ryan)

Jets linebacker Demario Davis took a $2.7 million pay cut in order to help facilitate the trade that brought him back to New York, according to Field Yates of ESPN.

Davis, who was set to earn $3.7 million in the final year of his contract, will now make $1 million this season. This includes a $100,000 signing bonus and a $900,000 base salary. He can also earn $1.225 million in incentives. 

Davis re-structured his contract at the time of the June 1 trade. 

Tags: Demario Davis
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 (Julio Cortez/AP)
(Julio Cortez/AP)

Jets quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates said he was impressed with Christian Hackenberg's passing in minicamp. 

Elsewhere, Yankees lose and Mets win their respective rubber games and Joe Girardi would have no problem with Aaron Judge in the Home Run Derby.

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