A look at what’s happening around the New York Jets:
1. Four! It might seem crazy to some, but the Jets are trending toward keeping four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. Some perspective: In 2015, nearly half the teams (15) opened the season with only two quarterbacks, while 17 (including the Jets) began with three on the roster, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The most recent team to carry four was the 2013 Washington Redskins.
2. Masking other problems: The Jets must be a pretty good team if the hottest preseason issue is the backup quarterback.
3. Geno speaks: Geno Smith ended his weeklong media silence on Friday, when he spoke to reporters after the loss to the Redskins. He apparently was upset by stories that observed the one-year anniversary of the IK Enemkpali incident (Aug. 11). A couple days later, he tweeted, “If they don’t have a story these days, they’ll make one.”
Smith’s response was surprising because the stories actually portrayed him in a positive light; they provided him a forum to tell the world how the jaw-breaking punch changed his perspective on football and life. Pouting about media coverage certainly doesn’t support his case.
“Geno’s success will be determined by how much he grows off the field. That’s it,” Brandon Marshall told me. “It has nothing to do with his talent or if he’s smart enough. It’s just him continuing to grow at the rate he is, and that’s all it is for Geno.”
Like him or not, Smith is here to stay — for one more season, anyway.
4. Hand it to the scouts: Remember the days (circa 2012) when the Jets were so bad at wide receiver that Antonio Cromartie volunteered to play two ways? My, how times have changed. The Jets have a lot of intriguing, young talent at the position, including Robby Anderson, Jalin Marshall and Charone Peake. They’re all rookies and all hungry after being humbled by the draft experience. Peake was a seventh-round pick, while Anderson and Marshall weren’t drafted at all.
Kudos to Mike Maccagnan’s scouts. Whenever low draft picks and undrafted free agents emerge, it’s usually the handiwork of the scouts, the grinders who find the sleepers. They’re particularly high on Anderson, who had a huge game against the Redskins. Maybe he can be the vertical threat Devin Smith was supposed to be.
5. Money matters: The Jets have only $1.2 million in salary-cap room, per NFLPA records — the lowest in the league. They’ll have to create more space in the coming weeks because they need money for a practice squad (about $1 million), an additional two players on the cap (currently, only 51 count) and potential injury replacements. Ideally, you’d like to go into the season a few million under the cap — fudge money, as Bill Parcells used to call it.
There’s not much fat on the roster, in terms of possible cap casualties. I’m curious to see what happens with Breno Giacomini, who hasn’t practiced because of a back injury. The team can save $4.4 million by cutting him, but he’s the only experienced right tackle.
6. Up for a fight: It raised some eyebrows in the offseason when Jarvis Jenkins, a solid starter for the Chicago Bears, decided to sign a free-agent contract to play for the Jets, with one of the most talented defensive lines in the league. Jenkins said he had opportunities to start elsewhere, but he chose to play with Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams because he wanted to challenge himself. “Even though I’m older than these guys, I look up to them because these guys can show me how to take my game to another level,” Jenkins said. A nice contract helped too. He will make starter’s money ($3 million), even though he’s projected as the fourth or fifth lineman.
Jenkins looks like a terrific depth signing. Defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers can take one of the Big Three off the field knowing there won’t be a significant drop-off. The Jets did not have that luxury last year.
7. Chris Ivory 2.0: Yes, Khiry Robinson has heard the Chris Ivory comparisons. They’re unavoidable. After all, both are small-school players, both went undrafted, both began their careers with the New Orleans Saints, and both have a punishing style of running. Robinson has never met Ivory, but he admires him.
“We’ve walked in the same shoes,” Robinson said. “I respect him. I heard we’re kind of alike. I appreciate guys like that, paving the way. I’ve been told we run similarly. I appreciate it. That’s a good compliment.”
Robinson, who spent the past eight months rehabbing a broken leg, is close to making his Jets debut.
8. Timeless Cinderella story: Retired wide receiver Wayne Chrebet, who visited practice last Sunday, noticed the difference between the 2016 training camp and that of, say, 1995, the year he broke into the league as the ultimate Cinderella story. Nowadays, they practice only once a day, not twice, and the amount of contact has been reduced significantly.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Sunday’s wake-up call, Day 26 of New York Jets training camp:
The Jets suffered a few injuries, none of them believed to be serious. Nevertheless, we’ll have our eyes on the practice field, observing their status. Cornerback Dee Milliner (left biceps) “will be fine,” Bowles said after the game, but Milliner warrants attention because of his long injury history. Receiver Quincy Enunwa (concussion) and linebacker Erin Henderson (stinger) also got hurt against the Washington Redskins. Presumably, Enunwa, who also plays H-back, will be sidelined at least a week, meaning more reps for Jace Amaro.
The main story involves previously injured players, namely right tackle Breno Giacomini (back), who remains on the physically unable to perform list. The team hasn’t made Giacomini available to the media, fueling the perception there’s something seriously wrong. If he misses a third preseason game, it will be time to worry. … This is a big week for defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (leg), who was held out Friday night. “I still think he needs another week to get his legs under him,” Bowles said. You can put running back Matt Forte (hamstring) in the same category. … Backup cornerback Dexter McDougle (hamstring) needs to get back in a hurry because his roster spot is in jeopardy.