During the offseason, I’ll be looking back at certain aspects of the Jets’ season by analyzing data compiled from all nineteen games, rather than watching film. I will be tackling as many diverse topics as possible, but welcome your suggestions or requests in the comments.

This week, I'm going to look at the punter situation for the Jets. How good was Steve Weatherford last year? How bad was he in the playoffs? Should they bring him back or not?

I'll be trying to look beyond the traditional punter statistics to analyze his performance and compare it with recent Jets and some of the other punters around the league. More after the jump.

Once again, this article has used data exclusively provided to us from the guys at PFF. Our thanks, as ever, go out to them.

Introduction

By sheer coincidence, PFF also published what is apparently their first ever article exclusively about punters this week. Fortunately for me, it contains the following nugget, which serves as a useful starting point:

One example of [someone whose performance exceeded their traditional stats] is Steve Weatherford of the New York Jets. He was 23rd in the league with 42.4 yards per punt in 2010 but he was PFF’s No. 5 rated punter with a +13.4 overall grade. He led the league by pinning the opponent within the 20 yard line 42 times. That was half of his 84 punts, a percentage that also led the league.


What PFF is saying is that basically Weatherford scores well because of his directional punting. There's no sense in booming a 50 yard punt through the endzone because the resulting touchback will result in a 30 yard net. You'd actually be better off with a 31 yard punt, as long as there was no return.

I've actually been considering ways to statistically represent punting performance, taking into account whether the punter put the ball through the end zone or outkicked his coverage. Obviously net average achieves this to an extent, but a punter who kicks from inside the opposition's half is likely to find his net average limited. Therefore, I've been looking at ways to express punt efficiency as a percentage.

A New Stat: ANPP

Adjusted Net Punt Percentage (ANPP) is the statistic I've invented to evaluate punters statistically. Each net punt can expressed as a percentage of the amount of yards to the opposition endzone. Therefore, if you are at the 50 yard line and the punt is downed at the five, that's 90%. If the punt went for a touchback, that would only be 60%. If the punt was returned to the 40, then that would only be 20%. You could have a negative percentage for an individual punt, but the overall numbers for a season will give a good indication of the punter's performance.

The reason why it's Adjusted Net Punt Percentage rather than just Net Punt Percentage is that I've limited the maximum expected yards to 65 yards. If I didn't do that, then a 45 yard net punt from the ten yard line (not bad) would only score the same as a 25 yard punt from the 50 yard line (awful). Now it will score the same as a 35 yard punt from the 50 (70%). This ensures the result is a percentage of a reasonable maximum. Of course, this could lead to a single punt percentage of over 100% but all that means is that the expected maximum has been exceeded.

Naturally, all fake punts and blocked punts have been excluded from the data.

The ANPP stat seems to work as follows:

- Less than 60% is poor. Examples of a 60% punt would be a 30 yard net punt from the 50 or a 39 yard net punt from inside your own 35. Anyone who is averaging less than 60% is not even managing to do this every time and should see their job in jeopardy.

- More than 70% is elite. Examples of a 70% punt would be a 35 yard net punt from the 50 or a 46 yard net punt from inside your own 35. If you are exceeeding 70% that means you are doing better than this on average and will have one of the highest ratings in the league.

- Everything in between gives us a scale on which we can judge punters around the league. Someone at 61% will be one of the weakest punters in the league, whereas someone at 69% would be one of the best in the NFL and someone at 65% will be in the middle of the pack. That's how narrow the gap is between elite and not good enough.

Road Testing the New Stat

Let's look at two guys from either end of the scale to check that this statistic works before we analyze Weatherford and other recent Jet punters.

Shane Lecher is widely regarded as the NFL's best punter. He had a comfortable lead atop PFF's rankings and I can personally vouch for him, having seen every Raiders game for the last few years. In 2010, Lechler's ANPP was 68%, right at the top end of the elite scale. He was actually at a phenomenal 76% after six games, but he was hurt by some long returns in the middle part of the season, due to his propensity to outkick his coverage. Otherwise, he was consistently clocking in the high sixties and above.

At the other end of the scale, we have Matt Dodge. The Giants rookie suffered significant growing pains during the year, including several costly errors, one of which saw DeSean Jackson score the winning touchdown in a crucial matchup in December. Dodge wasn't actually PFF's worst rated punter - it was Chicago's Brad Maynard, by a mile - but since his struggles were more high profile, we'll consider Dodge.

For 2010, Dodge posted an ANPP of 58%. He was actually at 61% with five games to go, but had an ANPP of less than 60% in four of his last five games to drop below the Mendoza line. Maybe Dodge gets a pass because he is young, but he will definitely need to show some improvement in camp otherwise the Giants will replace him with someone more experienced. Dodge did have an ANPP of over 65% in six of 16 games, so he isn't a total lost cause.

The scale does seem to work, anyway. So, remember, low sixties = bad, high sixties = good. Now armed with that, let's look back at the Jets over the last three years, starting with 2008.

Jets Analysis - 2008 to 2010

The incumbent starter entering the 2008 season was Australian Ben Graham. Graham had been "discovered" by Eric Mangini, but actually made his Jets debut in 2005 while Mangini was the defensive coordinator for the Patriots. Graham was entering his fourth season with the Jets, a refreshing change for a team that had used six different punters between 2001 and 2004, but despite showing plenty of promise, he was also prone to bouts of inconsistency. They had given him a Matt Dodge-style pass due to his inexperience, but he was on pretty thin ice after failing to replicate his preseason prowess in any of his first three seasons in the NFL.

Graham's season got off to a rocky start, as he shanked a couple of punts in the home opener against the Patriots. These errors were particularly costly as Matt Cassel was able to lead New England to a 19-10 win. At the bye week (week five), Graham had an ANPP of just 58%. Consulting the chart, this suggests his job was in jeopardy and, sure enough, he was replaced with Reggie Hodges. Hodges was slightly more reliable than Graham, but still only managed an ANPP of 61% over the remainder of the season. Hodges only surpassed 70% in two of his 12 games, and they were both games in which he only punted once. It was obvious that the Jets needed to upgrade.

2009's preseason saw the Jets trying out Hodges, rookie TJ Conley, AJ Trapasso, Glenn Pakulak and Ken Parrish before they finally settled on Weatherford following his release from Jacksonville. Weatherford did prove to be an upgrade at punter, posting an ANPP of 66% over the first ten games. However, he didn't have as strong of a finish to the season and saw his ANPP for the year drop to 64%. This still represents an upgrade from poor in 2008 to slightly below average in 2009.

Weatherford also brought a knack for running fake punts to the table, as the Jets went four-for-four, although only two of them saw Weatherford involved in the play as a runner.

In 2010, Weatherford brought ShakeWeights to camp for everybody and maybe that contributed to him winning the job again over Conley. Weatherford got off to a tremendous start by landing four of his six punts inside the 20 in the home opener for an outstanding ANPP of 80%, the highest by any Jet over the three year period analyzed. By comparison, Brandon Fields' incredible performance against the Jets in Week 14 last year, where he boomed punt after punt from deep in Miami territory only netted him an ANPP of 77%.

From there, Weatherford continued to have a solid season, only posting an ANPP of less than 60% twice, although one was in a horrible performance in New England, which helped dig the hole from which the Jets ultimately lost by 42. His ANPP for the regular season was 68% - the same as for Lechler. Quite simply, Weatherford had an excellent regular season, (ill-fated fake punt against Green Bay aside).

Interestingly, Hodges and Graham are still in the league and were 14th and 12th respectively in terms of gross average. Despite only being 23rd in that category, Weatherford had a better net average than both as they were both ranked outside the top ten by PFF. This suggests that those teams had inferior offenses to the Jets and had to kick from their own end of the field more often.

Postseason Analysis

Unfortunately, Weatherford's excellent regular season did not translate to the postseason. Having only put the ball in the endzone four times in 84 regular season punts, his directional punting skills deserted him and five of his 15 postseason punts rolled into the endzone. This left him with a horrible ANPP of 55%.

You may be wondering if ANPP numbers drop in the postseason, either due to the added pressure or perhaps because of the cold. While the cold may have affected Weatherford - his best game was indoors against the Colts - the postseason rankings would tend to suggest that even if there is a slight drop, it wouldn't be close to significant enough to excuse Weatherford's struggles:

ANPP Rankings - 2010 Postseason

- Morstead 81%

- Koch 73%

- Colquitt 69%

- Mesko 66%

- Masthay 65%

- Koenen 64%

- Kapinos, Rocca, Maynard 63%

- McAfee 59%

- Weatherford 55%

- Ryan 53%

Obviously these comprise some small sample sizes, including Morstead, who only punted four times, but the combined result of all postseason punting was an ANPP of 62% and nine of the 12 punters actually exceeded that number.

So, the question becomes whether Weatherford is unable to cope well enough with pressure situations. A look back to the 2009 playoff would suggest that this might not be an issue, because he posted an ANPP of 67%. However, the perception can't have been helped by the fact he had to miss a game with an irregular heartbeat. Although Jay Feely's stand-in performance was hailed as heroic, his ANPP was only 50% which underlines how much not having their regular punter available hurt them.

Will He Be Back?

In a chat on ESPNNY earlier this month, Rich Cimini stated the following in response to a question about Weatherford:

I'd say the chances of him returning are remote. I mean, they decided in early March not to give him an RFA tender; that was a pretty telling indication right there.


However, Weatherford was only paid $630,000 in 2010 and the minimum RFA tender in 2011 should be approximately $1.3m. While he improved in 2010, it's difficult to say that he did enough to earn a 100% pay rise, especially when he's not the kind of player to command much outside interest. The Jets, for whom money figures to be tight this year, probably expect to be able to bring him back for much less than that. According to Sports Illustrated, the average punter salary is approximately $850,000 and while Shane Lechler signed a $4m a year contract, this is far from the norm.

Other Options

Other than perhaps making a trade or a waiver wire pickup, the Jets have one other option on their current roster and it's a guy who has already had two shots at making the Jets roster. For TJ Conley, perhaps the third time's a charm. Conley averaged 47.4 yards per punt in his senior year at Idaho, but has been released after the Jets' first preseason game in each of the last two seasons.

In those two preseason games, Conley actually posted an ANPP of 67% which doesn't seem too bad, but if memory serves, I believe he shanked a punt which took a lucky roll and ended up being a 50-yarder. With such a small sample size, events like that are the one limitation of the ANPP statistic. Had it been a 30-yard net, his ANPP drops to 59%, so it's perhaps little wonder that he was cut.

Conclusions

While I will never be a believer in using stats alone to inform football decisions or opinions, the ANPP statistic I devised does seem to be a useful way of combining the most important numbers for a punter. On the basis of his ANPP numbers for 2010, Steve Weatherford had a great year, but his postseason performance obviously left a lot to be desired.

Despite his postseason struggles, Weatherford's performance last year was good enough that they should definitely try and bring him back, assuming the price is right. Fans of this team should know all too well how difficult it is to find a decent punter.

TJ Conley will get another chance and his upside is perhaps greater than Weatherford's. However, he will need to perform with more consistency than he has in the last two camps, otherwise he will find himself beaten out by the more experienced Weatherford once again.

As ever, I am looking for ideas to cover in a future BGA, so please let me have your suggestions in the comments.

Tags: BGA, Main Page, Bent Double

Jeane Coakley on Jets camp 00:01:55
Jeane Coakley reports from Jets training camp where Todd Bowles wants more consistency and hopes to name a starting quarterback soon.

 

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Aug 12, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles coaches against the Tennessee Titans 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; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles coaches against the Tennessee Titans during the second quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Jets head coach Todd Bowles said he will "probably" name a starting quarterback next Monday.

Bowles said on Monday that he wants to first watch film of Saturday's game against the Giants before making an announcement. The Jets will conclude their preseason schedule with a matchup against the Eagles at home on August 31.

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Josh McCown
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Jan 1, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets owner Woody Johnson on the field before a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jan 1, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets owner Woody Johnson on the field before a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Jets owner Woody Johnson has passed on the duties of team chairman and CEO to his brother, Christopher Johnson, the team announced on Monday.

The anticipated move came after Woody Johnson was sworn in as US Ambassador to the UK and Northern Ireland on Monday.  

Earlier this month, Woody Johnson was confirmed by the Senate to serve in the role.

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 (Jim O'Connor)
(Jim O'Connor)

Jets fans took to Twitter after Sunday night's episode of HBO's Game of Thrones to jokingly suggest the Night King should be their quarterback.

Warning: Episode spoilers below!

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December 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New York Jets defensive tackle Leonard Williams (92) and outside linebacker Darron Lee (50) celebrate after the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. The Jets defeated the 49ers 23-17 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports (Kyle Terada)
December 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New York Jets defensive tackle Leonard Williams (92) and outside linebacker Darron Lee (50) celebrate after the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. The Jets defeated the 49ers 23-17 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports (Kyle Terada)

The NFL has cleared Jets players Darron Lee and Leonard Williams of any violations of league rules after an investigation into an incident at a New York music festival in June turned up a lack of evidence.

The incident involved Williams dragging Lee away from what Jets coach Todd Bowles later described as "an argument with his girlfriend" during the Governors Ball on Randalls Island. The argument and the aftermath were caught on video and posted to social media.

The Twitter user who posted the video said the woman was "shaken and in tears" after the incident. The user also described Lee as "aggressive" and claimed the Jets linebacker "started to manhandle" the woman, "grabbed" her, and "started dragging her away."

Upon announcing that the league's investigation was closed, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email "Following a review, we concluded there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that there was a violation of the personal conduct policy."

Tags: Darron Lee, Leonard Williams, Ralph Vacchiano
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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (right) poses for a photo with NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith prior to Super Bowl XLVIII against the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium. (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (right) poses for a photo with NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith prior to Super Bowl XLVIII against the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium. (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is close to getting a five-year contract extension to remain in his position atop the league, according to multiple reports.

According to the Sports Business Journal, Goodell will earn close to what he is during his current contract, which is set to end in 2019. Goodell has presided over the NFL since 2006 since he took over for Paul Tagliabue. The extension would keep him on as commissioner until 2024.

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

After losing some veterans on the offensive line, the Jets are looking for some answers and reliability in the trenches as they march toward the regular season. 

The offense struggled as a whole in Saturday's loss at the Lions, producing just 85 rushing yards and six total points. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg only went 2-of-6 for 14 yards in the first half. Head coach Todd Bowles attributes that to some issues on the line. 

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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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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

Tags: Christian Hackenberg
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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." 

Tags: Muhammad Wilkerson
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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.

 

Tags: Christian Hackenberg
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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."

Tags: Darron Lee
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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.

Tags: Matt Forte
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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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