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Schwartz: Jets Go From The MetLife Bowl To The Backup Bowl

By Peter Schwartz
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If you have Jets season tickets, then you paid good money for tickets to Thursday night's preseason finale against the Eagles.

The popular thought would be to put some salt and pepper on those tickets and eat them, but I think the game is worth watching.

Now, it's possible that it could be a snoozer (or as Rex Ryan likes to say, "a pillow fight"), but my choice would be to schlep out to MetLife Stadium for an evening of exhibition football (although I guess that depends on how far you have to schlep!).

With the starters (other than first round pick Muhammad Wilkerson) not expected to play, tonight's contest is a chance for the backups to get extensive playing time and try to earn some of those coveted final roster spots.

"You know if its close (at a position), whoever plays better will get that job, " said Ryan. "It's an audition for a lot of guys."

If certain players don't stick with the Jets, its possible that their performance tonight could lead to getting picked up by another team.

"Maybe they're not good enough to play for our football team," said Ryan.

It's also a chance for these players to say they contributed to a victory. That scenario is a big reason why the starters will be on the sidelines acting like big cheerleaders.

"They're going to get out there and have a lot of fun," said wide receiver Santonio Holmes. "They've been in their playbooks and have been working hard throughout this little time that we've had. The guys want to make the team so they definitely have to put everything on the line."

This includes wide receiver Patrick Turner, who is a candidate for the 5th wide receiver spot. With Logan Payne sidelined with a wrist injury, Turner just might have the inside track. That is unless the Jets find another receiver when final cuts are made over the weekend.

While it's going to be mainly the backups on the field, that doesn't mean that the Jets won't have any recognizable faces out there against the Eagles. As I mentioned, Wilkerson is going to play after being ejected during the third quarter for exchanging blows with Giants running back Brandon Jacobs, who was also tossed.

Wilkerson is not about to complain about playing in two games over a four-day span.

"It's just like practice," said the former Temple star. "You practice every day so it's going to be the same. It's going to be a good thing.

Wilkerson was named a starter prior to the start of camp taking away a bit of potential mystery. The Jets also ended the drama with regards to their kicker and punter jobs as Nick Folk and T.J. Conley wrapped up those positions.

Ryan made that official on Monday while also announcing that Nick Novak, Chris Bryan, and Courtney Smith were all released.

Among the other things to look for tonight:

*Will former Bills first-round bust LB Aaron Maybin make the team? Ryan said this week that he has to show some more to stick. Jamaal Westerman and former AFL and CFL'er Garrett McEntyre have had good camps so it might be tough for Maybin to win a job.

*Who will run the Wildcat? 5th round pick Jeremy Kerley was brilliant in that role against the Giants, even throwing a pass.

"It was something that me, LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight rotated and auditioned for (during) a couple of practices," said Kerley. "I didn't feel uncomfortable doing it. Like I said, it was something that I did a lot of in college, so I felt comfortable doing it. I'm glad that our coaches have that trust in me this early on to run the Wildcat."

It's going to be almost impossible to fill the shoes of Brad Smith, but maybe the Jets can come close. Kerley has been outstanding in camp and I think deserves the first crack at the Wildcat during the season.

*With Logan Payne injured (wrist), it would appear that Patrick Turner has the inside track on the #5 wide receiver spot. But just because he survives the final cuts, it doesn't mean he has a roster spot. The Jets could be looking around to see what players are released from other teams.

*Speaking of looking around, and I sound like a broken record with this one, but the Jets will certainly be fishing around for a backup offensive lineman or two.

Former Giant Shaun O'Hara? Maybe. He's not quite ready to play yet but would seem to be an interesting possibility.


Sport Illustrated's NFL Preview issue hit the newsstands this week and there are six different regional covers. In our region, Jets linebacker Calvin Pace graces the front.

Check out the latest Jets SI cover here.

The Jets have been on the cover of SI 22 times. The last time the Jets were on the cover was following their divisional round playoff win over the Patriots in January.

Pace is an interesting selection for the cover considering that he was not with the team at the start of the last 2 seasons because of a suspension and an injury so you know where I'm going with this!

The Jets, who have Super Bowl aspirations (or guarantees depending on who you talk to), are obviously hoping to avoid the "SI Jinx."


Because of the lockout, HBO did not have "Hard Knocks" this season. However, they have put together a special that looks back at all of the previous editions of the show including last summer with the Jets.

"Hard Knocks: A Decade Of NFL Training Camps" debuted this week. The next airings on HBO are Friday at 230pm and 9pm.


Paul Dottino and I will be hosting a pre-season football special on the FAN Saturday from 1pm to 4pm. We'll have some special guests, take your phone calls at 1-877-337-6666, and take a look around the NFL on a day when teams have to trim their rosters down to the final 53. Hope you can join us!

That's all for now! Check back after the Jets-Eagles game for more. Enjoy the game!

Will you be watching the "Backup Bowl" on Thursday? Sound off below!

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