As the New York Jets overhauled their roster one of the primary goals was to improve overall team speed and athleticism on both sides of the football. After a couple of weeks of training camp it is quite evident that general manager Mike Maccagnan accomplished his goal on the defensive side of the field. While the play of rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye is garnering most of the attention on defense, the competition at the linebacker position should not be ignored.
Out with Harris in with Davis
The trade for Demario Davis was met with plenty of negativity initially, especially when many were asking him to replace and possibly upgrade the abilities of David Harris on and off the field. Demario has no doubt entered this training camp with a chip on his shoulder, arriving in incredible shape and playing fast and ferocious. Davis is one of the undisputed vocal leaders on the defense and is flying around the field making plays. DD will be a true threat in blitz packages.
Year two for Lee and Jenkins
Big things are expected from both linebackers Darron Lee and Jordan Jenkins, and rightfully so as both are very talented. The second year backers look extremely comfortable and confident in practice, displaying leadership qualities while raising the intensity and physical play of their teammates.
Bounce back year for Mauldin
Last season was a bit of a lost year for Lorenzo Mauldin as the Jets made the foolish mistake of asking him to put on weight negating his explosiveness and speed. Mauldin returns this season at his correct weight, with plenty to prove, and that should be exciting to watch. Coach Kevin Greene will no doubt maximize the pass rushing potential of Mauldin which he exhibited his rookie year.
Best of the rest
Running a 3-4 defense requires plenty of versatile linebackers that can go sideline to sideline, that can also pack some punch in the trenches. This is where this year’s backer group seems to differ from other seasons. Gang Green’s linebackers have been flying around in practice with a fast, physical presence. Josh Martin, Julian Stanford, Bruce Carter, Freddie Bishop, Dylan Donahue, Corey Lemonier, and Frank Beltre are all making their case to get reps on a daily basis. These guys have been relentless pushing one another which is raising the play of the entire defense. To say it is fun to watch is a complete understatement and this will give Todd Bowles on a ton of options with his defensive schemes.
So as the New York Jets take the field for their first preseason game keep an eye on the linebacker position and these heated roster battles. There is plenty of talent on display and this will pay huge dividends for the New York Jets down the line.