Jets camp: Three key goals and top battle

Robby Anderson has a chance to be the No. 1 receiver with the Jets this season.Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

By Chris Mascaro, The Sports Xchange
Looking at the Jets' priorities

Three goals:

  • Get Sam Darnold ready to play. Now, we didn’t say get Sam Darnold ready to play Week 1. That’s not necessary, since the Jets are unlikely to make a playoff push this season, anyway. Also, three of their first four games are on the road, and they will play their first three in a span of 11 days. None of that is conducive for a rookie quarterback. The Jets plan to give to Darnold plenty of reps in training camp and the preseason, including with the first team. But once the regular season starts, let him hold a clipboard and watch just how badly Josh McCown gets beat up in a regular-season game. That will be his real welcome to the NFL moment.

  • Get the secondary to jell. The Jets’ biggest offseason acquisition was cornerback Trumaine Johnson, signed to a five-year, $72.5 million deal, with $34 million guaranteed. The only chance the Jets’ defense has of getting pressure on the quarterback is by getting coverage sacks. But even if Johnson plays like an All-Pro, second-year safeties Marcus Maye and Jamal Adams struggled at times in coverage last season. With veterans Morris Claiborne and Buster Skrine as the second corner/nickel combination, the unit should be strong — and it has to be.

  • Pick a receiver, any receiver. The stat people enjoyed throwing around a factoid this offseason that the Jets are the only team in the league with four receivers — Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Jermaine Kearse and Terrelle Pryor — that have at least one 800-yard season. So clearly there’s depth, but Anderson is really the only one of the four with the game-breaking ability to be a potential No. 1. The others are veterans who may not have a long-term future with the team, and that’s not factoring in second-year man Chad Hansen, who has emerged in spring practices. Finding guys that have a good rapport with Darnold will be crucial moving forward.

Top battle:

–Outside linebacker. It’s the top summer battle because the Jets don’t really have one to go opposite Jordan Jenkins in their 3-4 scheme. Lorenzo Mauldin may have the highest upside, but he hasn’t played a game since Nov. 27, 2016. The recently-signed Courtney Upshaw will get a look, but who knows how much he has left in the tank. David Bass and Josh Martin will likely be cycled through, and Dylan Donahue is a question mark because of his DUI arrests and recent stint in rehab. There are options aplenty, but none is a slam dunk.

Honorable mention for summer battle is tight end, where the Jets have arguably the worst unit in the league. Jordan Leggett is the presumptive starter even though he missed all of his rookie year last season with a knee injury. The Jets signed veteran Clive Walford and drafted Chris Herndon out of Miami in the fourth round, but the latter also has a DWI to his name this offseason, so he may have to dig himself out of the doghouse before he gets to start.

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