BGA: The Expendables – Part Two

Bent , TheJetsBlog.com

Every year, teams have to let some players go. Even though the Jets brought back Sione Po’uha, Bryan Thomas and Nick Folk, they chose not to bring everyone back. Although it’s only preseason, I’ll be keeping track of the progress on the guys who left so we can at least start to form some views on whether letting any of these guys loose was a mistake or a smart move. If you missed part one, you can read that here

After the jump, all of the details from the second preseason game for each of the guys the Jets let go from last year’s team, including a fall back to earth and some unexpected success.

In no particular order…

Colin Baxter – Center, Chargers

It’s not looking good for Baxter, who was considered a virtual lock for the active roster in minicamp. Tony Molk continues to hold down the backup center role and Baxter just got seven late-game snaps at left guard with the third unit – two of which were kneel-downs. On the other five snaps, the Chargers drove 16 yards for a touchdown, with nine of the yards coming courtesy of a driving double team block from Baxter and the center. However, on the next play, Baxter ended up on the ground as his man assisted on a tackle in the background. The Chargers ran it in from just inside the five, but even on that play Baxter was driven back off the line with the run going the other way. Molk did have a bad snap, so maybe Baxter will get one last shot at that role, but it seems unlikely.

Robert Turner, Center, St. Louis

In contrast, Turner continues to hold the starting center role with the Rams, keeping that seat warm for Scott Wells. Turner was only in for two drives, because the Rams scored two touchdowns and then rested their starters. On the second play of the game, Turner drove his man out of the play, creating a seam for Steven Jackson to run 18 yards. He was also once again flawless in pass protection and the Rams didn’t give up any sacks with him in there. It will be interesting to see if Turner drops to the bench or gets to start at guard when Wells returns, because his play definitely would seem to merit a starting job.

Brian Schottenheimer, Offensive Co-ordinator, St. Louis

On the first play of the game this week, Schotty left six men in to block and Sam Bradford completed a 35-yard bomb down the right sideline. This set the tone for a huge 31-point day, with Kellen Clemens of all people getting the bulk of the reps under center. Either Schottenheimer has learned some lessons or the Rams personnel is better than previously thought.

Matt Mulligan, Tight End, St. Louis

Mulligan continues to be locked in as the third tight end for the Rams. He didn’t play much of a role in their offensive success this week, though – although he seemed to do more route running than blocking. He did have one bad block, when a defender beat him on the inside to blow up a run for a loss. The only pass thrown his way was broken up. It looks like Brody Eldridge, who the Jets put in a waiver claim for, probably won’t make the team, although I’d like to think there will be better options out there for the Jets’ blocking TE role.

Braylon Edwards, Wide Receiver, Seattle

After last week’s fireworks, Braylon didn’t catch any passes this week as the Seahawks seemed more interested in forcing the ball to Terrell Owens (which backfired because he also came up empty on five targets). Edwards – who only got a handful of reps in the first half but played most of the third quarter – was targeted on two deep throws to the end zone. On each, he was well covered and the first one was well overthrown (possibly even just a throw away). On the second one, in the third quarter, the defensive back got closer to catching it than he did. I’d describe his effort in terms of run blocking as sporadic, although most of the runs went up the middle. He did have one good and one bad run block from the outside. He wore a hefty ice pack/wrap on his knee as he sat out the fourth quarter.

Michael Campbell, Wide Receiver, St. Louis

The former practice squadder got some third unit reps in the fourth quarter, but wasn’t targeted. He looks unlikely to make the active roster, barring a spate of injuries or something.

Jamaal Westerman, DE/OLB, Miami

Westerman got plenty of work in this game – which was the worst game I can remember seeing for ages – seeing action in all four quarters. In truth, this was a poor performance from Westerman, who had looked pretty good rushing the passer in week one. He made no impact whatsoever as a pass rusher, including a couple of plays where the quarterback had plenty of time to throw and made an easy completion. However, it was against the run where he really struggled. On one series, he was beaten to the edge for 31 on an end around, then missed a tackle on the next play which went right at him for 13 yards. On the play after that, although it didn’t gain significant yardage, he got caught on the inside.

Things got a bit better for him in the second half, as he finally managed to get to the quarterback, albeit stunting up the middle unblocked on a play where the pass was completed for a first down even though the quarterback was hit as he threw. He didn’t record any other pressures, although he did draw some double teams. He also drew a holding penalty on one play, although this looked to be a borderline call and was a situation where the play looked like it would have been successful even without the hold. Westerman ended up with just one tackle – assisting on a stop up the middle in the first quarter.

Marquice Cole, DB, New England

With New England resting a lot of players, Cole was the slot cornerback for basically the whole game. He did get easily beaten by DeSean Jackson for 15 yards on a third and eight crossing pattern and had three missed tackles, but overall he didn’t do too badly, especially in coverage. Late in the game, he showed good closing speed on a pass to the flat on third and goal, making a tackle at the two yard line. He also came off his man to make a couple of tackles. The Eagles were able to take advantage of his lack of size on several running plays, but he did draw an offensive pass interference flag and also had a pressure as a pass rusher.

On special teams, he did a great job getting downfield on one punt, but then missed the tackle. On another special teams play, he was easily beaten by the Eagles’ gunner and then missed a chance to recover a fumble because he didn’t make much of an effort to get back to the ball. Still – he looks comfortable in that role, which is a shame because I think he’d be an instant upgrade over guys like Trufant and Posey that could end up making the Jets roster almost by default.

Ropati Pitoitua, DE, Kansas City

As I said last week, Potty is a lot of fun to watch in preseason. While most of his reps were with (and against) the second unit, they did rotate him in early so he did get some reps against the Rams starters. I think this is going to work out to be a very good signing for the Chiefs. Potty had three pressures and two tackles – one of which saw him come off the left edge to chase down a run to the other side for a short gain. His other tackle saw him driven off the line and carried for a few extra yards by Steven Jackson, but there were at least two other tackles where he was in on the play for a short gain. He made one other good play where he shot the gap into the backfield to redirect the runner, although the play ended up being bounced outside for a first down. Pitoitua did get blocked out of the play on two of the Rams touchdowns, but overall he definitely did more good than bad.

Logan Payne, WR, Baltimore

Payne, who had been dealing with a hip issue, provides us with a perfect example of how unreliable NFL preseason stats are. I don’t think he played at all, but somehow the NFL credited him with a tackle and a forced fumble. I thought maybe he made a play on special teams that I missed, but when I went back to review the play he supposedly made, it was a running play and the guy who made the tackle – the deep safety Christian Thompson – couldn’t have looked any less like him and didn’t have a similar number (33, compared with Payne’s 18), so I have literally no idea how that happened. Let’s call this a DNP.

Tracy Wilson, S, Tennessee

Wilson did not play in week one, having only been with the team for a few days, but he did see some action here on one fourth quarter series where the Bucs ran seven plays led by former Jets “future franchise QB” Brett Ratliff (yes, he’s still in the league) and gained 33 yards. Wilson did not get credit for any tackles, but was in on three. This included one where the runner got to the edge, but Wilson came up fast to trip him up, displaying the willingness to get involved in run support that saw the Jets interested in him in the first place. He wasn’t targeted in coverage.

The Rest

There were several guys that did not return who have not yet found themselves a team: Plaxico Burress, Gerald Alexander, Donald Strickland and Mark Brunell. Also, LaDainian Tomlinson retired and Brodney Pool was released by the Cowboys before their first game. Kevin O’Connell was on the Chargers roster but was cut after last week’s game. Finally, Jim Leonhard again did not play this week for Denver.

In other ex-Jets news, Seattle picked up Kris O’Dowd on Sunday – he’s the center who the Jets picked up on the first day of training camp but released early in the offseason – and ex-Jet Drew Coleman, who was on the team’s radar earlier this offseason, was placed on injured reserve by the Lions with concussion symptoms.

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