Steve Marshall was asked how many spots are still up for grabs on the offensive line, and his answer was scary.
“Five,” the offensive line coach said.
That, of course, might be stretching the truth. The Jets are set at two positions, the two guard spots, with James Carpenter on the left side and Brian Winters on the right. But otherwise, the unit is in flux, six players fighting for three spots, and it has showed with uneven play from the group throughout training camp and the two preseason games. It has allowed five sacks in the preseason, and the Jets defensive front seven has frequently gotten the better of the offensive line in practice.
Kelvin Beachum and Ben Ijalana are battling at left tackle, Jonotthan Harrison and Wesley Johnson at center, and Brandon Shell and Brent Qvale at right tackle. Coach Todd Bowles doesn’t expect to have it all settled until after the fourth preseason game, next Thursday against the Eagles at MetLife Stadium. All six could play in that game.
“Right now, they will,” Bowles said. “We’ll see what happens Saturday before I make those decisions.”
The game Saturday against the Giants figures to be a good test for the group, facing Big Blue’s physical defensive front of Jason Pierre-Paul, Damon “Snacks” Harrison and Olivier Vernon.
There are still jobs up in the air in the Jets secondary. While rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye are entrenched as the starters, Bowles isn’t set at cornerback. Not even newcomer Morris Claiborne, expected to be the No. 1 guy, is safe.
“He still has to earn his spot,” Bowles said of the former Cowboy, who is nursing a sore shoulder and may not face the Giants Saturday night. “There’s definitely competition there.”
Leonard WilliamsJoseph E. Amaturo
Robert Nunn coached the 2011 Giants Super Bowl-winning defensive line that featured Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck, and he believes the Jets unit, led by Leonard Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, is up there with any he’s coached.
“This group takes a back seat to no one,” Nunn said.
In his first year with the Jets, Nunn has been most impressed with Williams, the Jets first round pick in 2015 who notched a team-high seven sacks last year and made the Pro Bowl.
“This guy, I don’t believe, has scratched the surface,” Nunn said. “He seems to learn something every day, every week, doing something different. My only hope is I don’t screw him up, because he’s a talented young man that has a really unique skillset. He’s easy to coach, plays hard, works hard. I look forward to seeing where it goes.”
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