Jets enter final preseason game with much still to prove

Jets enter final preseason game with much still to prove

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Four more quarters. 

The Jets have four more quarters of preseason football against the Giants on Sunday afternoon to get through before they can say, “Bring on the Ravens.” This late August clash between MetLife Stadium co-tenants does not have much meaning to it, but for the Jets it is a chance to get their starters a little work together in a game situation. 

So far, Jets coach Robert Saleh has chosen to rest many of his starters in preseason games. But he said he will play the starters for at least a quarter on Sunday and maybe a little longer. The Jets have worked together in plenty of practices this summer, but this will be one final step toward preparing for that Sept. 11 opener against the Ravens. 

Robert Saleh
Robert Saleh
USA TODAY Sports

“I think we’ve had a really good camp as a team,” tight end Tyler Conklin said. “I think going out there on Sunday is just a good opportunity for us to go and just take another step to piece this thing together, and for us to go out there and play together and keep stacking another good day on top of another.” 

On offense, this will be a chance for the starting offensive line to work together in a game environment for the first time. Left tackle Duane Brown participated in team drills for the first time this week. The Jets also have George Fant getting used to right tackle after being moved there midway through training camp. The unit needs some reps together. 

On defense, players like Carl Lawson and C.J. Mosley have yet to take a preseason rep. Lawson is still shaking off the rust after missing last season with a torn Achilles. He warmed up for the game in Philadelphia before Saleh told him he was not playing. Saleh said he will play against the Giants. 

This will also be quarterback Joe Flacco’s first preseason reps. Flacco is expected to be the Week 1 starter barring a surprising recovery from knee surgery by Zach Wilson. Flacco appreciated seeing a lot of blitzes from Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale during the joint practice on Thursday. He should get more of the same on Sunday. 

Joe Flacco
Joe Flacco
AP

“You just learn a little bit about yourself and how to attack that stuff, and it’s a good reminder that we’re just playing football,” Flacco said. “We don’t have to be rocket scientists out there and try to be perfect with everything. You run your base stuff and you play quick and that can sometimes negate some of those things, so it’s nice to be able to go against that, because against our defense we’re used to seeing more of this is what they play, and they’re going to get really good at that versus these guys. You’re going to get a bunch of different looks, and you’re going to have to be on top of your stuff.” 

The Jets wrapped up training camp on Friday. After Sunday’s game they will have practices on Tuesday and Wednesday, and light work on Thursday this week before a break for Labor Day weekend. The roster will be cut from 80 to 53 by 4 p.m. on Tuesday. So, after the starters exit Sunday it will be the final opportunity for bubble players to impress the coaches and executives. 

Saleh said Friday that he was happy with what the team got out of training camp. Besides Wilson and tackle Mekhi Becton, the Jets are healthy entering Sunday. 

“We feel really good about our football team, feel really good about the guys that we have,” Saleh said. “Felt like a lot of guys got a lot better this offseason. I don’t want to jinx it, so I’m going to knock [on wood], you guys feel free to knock too, we’ve been very healthy, with the exception of a couple things here and there. Really like what we’ve gotten out of it.”

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