If the Jets weren’t going to make the postseason, perhaps it was best for their long-term viability and the development of their young players to be eliminated now and let the younger players develop. Last year, they closed out the season with three straight losses, going into the final game of the season in Miami at 8-7 and with a chance of making the playoffs. All the starters played and the younger players watched from the sideline. Now with the playoffs out of reach, a number of young Jets players are eyeing some experience.
Take for example massive nose tackle Damon Harrison, who has been active on game day a handful of times this year and could be again these final two games.
“You always go in every week hoping and preparing that you will have a big role with the team on game day, sure,” Harrison told The Jets Blog. “But the amount I’ve grown over this year, what I’ve learned and how I’ve developed, just getting into games helps me a lot. I’ve grown so much this year as a football player with all the great guys around here teaching me and everything.”
Harrison acknowledged that experience like the kind he could get in the final two games could help heading into next year. Still a bit of a project, Harrison came out of NAIA program William Penn as an undrafted free agent and through hard work and tremendous upside made the roster.
Another player like Harrison who is getting better and improving each day is Hayden Smith. The former rugby player is making the transition to the NFL without the benefit of college football and he’s making some adaptations. If he is active this Sunday against the Chargers, it would be the fourth time this season that he will have seen game action. Smith’s other action came in a home loss to Miami, on the road in a win at Jacksonville and this past Monday night in the loss at Tennessee.
“I’m just learning so much and the best way to learn is to play in a game, obviously,” Smith told The Jets Blog. “But you go out there to play and win and every time we do that, we want to win the game. That’s more important and to me, that is certainly more important than things like playing time.”
Smith of course is hoping to register his first NFL catch sometime soon.
“A catch would be nice,” Smith said with a laugh. “But a win is more important.”
Kristian R. Dyer is a Jets beat reporter for Metro New York and contributes to The Jets Blog. Follow him at @KristianRDyer for Jets breaking news and info from Florham Park.