BGA: The Expendables – Primer and HOF game update

Bent, TheJetsBlog.com

Every year, teams have to let some players go. Even thought the Jets did bring back some of their free agents (Lex Hilliard, Josh Mauga, Nick Folk, Tanner Purdum and restricted free agents Austin Howard and Jeff Cumberland), they chose not to bring everyone back. Although it’s only preseason, we’ll be keeping track of the progress on the guys they let go 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.

We’ll be aiming to cover all of the players and key coaches that were with the Jets during 2012 or 2013 and are now with another team. After the jump, a comprehensive list – which may of course grow as the preseason continues with guys like Eric Smith and Bart Scott still searching for a job – of who we’ll be covering. However, before we get into that, there was already one preseason game played this season that featured a couple of ex-Jets.

Note that – if you were not aware, PFF is analyzing preseason games for the first time this year and some of their stats (ie snap counts) are used here.

Dustin Keller, TE, Dolphins

After five years as a Jet, Keller walked and signed a one year deal with Miami. In his first game, he was just in for 10 snaps, catching a short pass over the middle on his only target. He also didn’t do a bad job as a run blocker, avoiding any mistakes as Miami had a couple of nice runs with him blocking. As an established veteran, I wouldn’t expect Miami to need to see too much of him in preseason, other than the bare minimum to get comfortable with the system and build a little chemistry with the rest of his teammates.

Julian Posey, CB, Dolphins

Posey was a guy who was on the brink of a roster spot with the Jets last year but fell victim to their depth at the cornerback position. It looks like Miami is going to give him an extended look as they used him at right cornerback in the second quarter and left cornerback throughout the second half – a total of 30 snaps. Posey looked pretty comfortable out there, although he did get burned for a 32-yard gain over the top by Jared Green (Hall of Fame cornerback Darrell Green’s son). Posey did make one good play against the run, forcing a runner back inside and then getting in on the tackle for a short gain.

Bill Callahan, Offensive Coordinator, Cowboys

The former offensive line coach left the Jets after last season, amid rumors he was disgruntled with the organization for not allowing him to interview with the Titans and allegations that he had deliberately sabotaged his Raiders team so that they lost in the Super Bowl in 2003. By all accounts, Callahan’s first game as Dallas’ playcaller was a resounding success. Naturally, his area of expertise is the running game and Dallas racked up 170 yards at an average of 5.0 yards per carry.

After the jump, a rundown of everyone else we’ll be keeping tabs on this offseason.

Tim Tebow, QB (?), Patriots

I know, I know, but I can’t claim to be comprehensive and then ignore Tebow. Admit it, you’re morbidly fascinated to see how he gets on in New England anyway. According to reports, he was “atrocious” on the first day of camp, but has settled down a bit and was described as “sharp” when the Pats scrimmaged with the Eagles yesterday (although another report said he threw two touchdowns but “struggled with his accuracy”).

John Conner, FB, Bengals

You might be able to catch the Terminator on Hard Knocks. Apparently there is “uncertainty” at the fullback position and it won’t surprise anyone to hear that he has been “inconsistent” at camp. He did “destroy” rookie DE Margus Hunt in a drill though, according to this report.

Aaron Maybin, DE/OLB, Bengals

Maybin also made an appearance on Hard Knocks himself this week. It’s hard to believe but, this time last year, Maybin was viewed as the Jets’ best pass rusher and considered a possible cornerstone of their future. It’s difficult to predict what he’ll bring to the Bengals, but if 2011 Aaron Maybin shows up, they might have themselves a bargain.

Tony Sparano, OL Coach, Raiders

It should be interesting to keep tabs on Sparano this year. Oakland is working with a depleted roster because they have a staggering $49.7m committed to dead money, but they do have a couple of nice pieces on their offensive line.

Chaz Schilens, WR, Lions

Schilens hit the headlines yesterday when he made comments displaying a surprising level of animosity towards Mark Sanchez. He’s battling for the Lions fifth receiver spot with the likes of former Bronco Matt Willis. Despite extensive vitriol from the fans, Schilens was pretty solid when called upon last year, catching 68% of his targets. I blame the media for inaccurately marketing him as a deep threat when he’s always been more of a possession receiver. We’ll get to see him face the Jets tomorrow.

Jason Smith, OT, Saints

Smith is apparently in the mix to be the starting left tackle for the Saints, but insiders currently expect Charles Brown to win the job. Of mild relevance, Wayne Hunter – who was traded by the Jets when they obtained Smith – is still on the market, but PFF suggests he might be a good option for the Falcons.

Jay Richardson, DE, Saints

Richardson was with the Jets last year and almost made the roster, but fell victim to their defensive line depth. However, he might have a good opportunity with the Saints following Kenyon Coleman’s season-ending injury yesterday. The Saints have limited cap space to go out and source a replacement, so Richardson and Akiem Hicks are currently splitting reps in Coleman’s place.

Darrelle Revis, CB, Bucs

Revis’ departure was one of the biggest stories of the offseason. With a meeting with the Jets looming in the season opener, it will be interesting to see whether the Bucs will want to give Revis any preseason reps first. Coach Greg Schiano has said that this is “not paramount” but the Bucs haven’t ruled this out yet. I wouldn’t expect to see him in the first few weeks though.

Matt Slauson, G, Bears

The Bears signed Slauson to start for them at left guard and that’s going to plan as he tops their depth chart at that position. It would be a surprise to see anyone beat him out, but Slauson’s been banged up over the years, so he will need to remain healthy. It will also be interesting to see how badly his pass protection numbers suffer as a by-product of Jay Cutler holding the ball for too long.

Mike DeVito, DL, Chiefs

Like Slauson, DeVito was brought in to start and tops the current depth chart in Kansas City. There’s a group of players battling for playing time behind him and, as you’d expect, the Chiefs will likely be replacing him on passing downs. DeVito is filling in for another ex-Jet, Ropati Pitoitua, who went to Tennessee after having worked out with the Jets this offseason.

Bob Sutton, Defensive Coordinator, Chiefs

Former linebackers coach (and, going back a way, defensive coordinator) Sutton joins the Chiefs where he likely played a role in their decision to sign DeVito. While the Chiefs had a rough season last year, they do have some young talent. Look for Eric Berry to emerge as the centerpiece of that defense.

Marcus Dixon, DL, Chiefs

Dixon followed Sutton to Kansas City, where he links up with his former teammate DeVito. He’s more of a long shot to make the team. Arrowhead Pride predicts he won’t make it but names him as one of the six players they “could see” making the team.

Martin Tevaseu, NT, Colts

MTV didn’t make the Jets roster last year, but contributed in Indianapolis, where he remains in the mix for a role this year. He was dealing with a shoulder issue until last week though, so he may have fallen behind in his quest to lock down a roster spot.

LaRon Landry, S, Colts

Landry got a big money deal with the Colts and will start at safety for them as long as he can remain healthy. I wouldn’t expect to see much of him in preseason, just so they can manage him. In fact, he tweaked a knee a day or two ago and was held out of practice, so it will be interesting to see if he even plays in the first game.

Mike Pettine, Defensive Coordinator, Bills

Pettine’s first DC job should be interesting to watch. Will he be out of his depth without his “left hand man”? Will the Bills have to deal with the same sort of media leaks he was suspected of being involved in while with the Jets? Pettine is already dealing with a headache in the form of some diva-esque behavior from the team’s highest paid player, DE Mario Williams.

Marcus Dowtin, LB, Bills

Dowtin was on the Jets active roster briefly last season, following an underwhelming preseason campaign that landed him on the practice squad. Surprisingly, he’s the only ex-Jet that Pettine has brought to the Bills so far, although he was reunited with Jarron Gilbert (and Brad Smith) when he arrived.

Ryan Steed, CB, Steelers

Steed showed promise at rookie and mini-camp last year, before falling behind in the Jets depth-laden secondary. It’s always interesting to watch guys like him (and Posey) not just because it’s interesting to see if the Jets gave up on him too quickly but also to try and put into context how deep the Jets must be at that position now, if a guy they discarded is getting a longer look elsewhere. The Steelers are dealing with plenty of injuries in their secondary right now, so it’s possible Steed might even start during preseason – a golden opportunity.

Tracy Wilson, S, Titans

Wilson was cut by the Jets last year after a solid preseason campaign. He ended up on the Titans active roster, albeit mostly playing special teams. He’s on the bubble again this year, but has apparently looked good at times.

Shonn Greene, RB, Titans

Greene was a surprising pickup for the Titans as he may not be an ideal fit for their team. I can see him being a useful player to have in reserve in the event Chris Johnson gets hurt, but I’m not sure how well he fits in as a complementary backup. Greene often starts slow, so it might take him longer to get going if Johnson is getting the majority of the snaps. Johnson – a true three-down back – played over 80% of the snaps last year. The obvious answer is that the Titans got Greene so they could reduce Johnson’s workload, but how will the veteran respond to that? Also worth watching – if Greene’s snap count falls below 20% that might mean he no longer qualifies as a UFA loss for the purposes of the compensatory pick calculation.

Josh Brown, PK, Giants

Nick Folk beat out Brown last year, but it looks like Brown is back in the NFL because the Giants let Lawrence Tynes go and brought in Brown to be their kicker. So far, so good, as Brown says he’s having the best preseason of his career.

TJ Conley/Spencer Lanning, P, Browns

From Brown to the Browns, where a couple more ex-Jet special teamers are vying for a job. Conley punted for the Jets in 2011, after winning the job in his third camp with the Jets. Lanning was signed by the Jets in late August last year but then released three days later.

Terrence Ganaway, RB, Rams

After poaching Ganaway from the Jets last year when New York tried to put him on their practice squad, the Rams stashed him on their active roster all year and he only saw five plays (and no touches) on offense. However, he’s now in a battle because the Rams drafted Zac Stacy to add to a backfield that already featured Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead. Despite releasing Stephen Jackson, the Rams have plenty of candidates to make the team and Ganaway is by no means a lock.

Jonathan Grimes, RB, Jags

I was puzzled when the Jets signed Grimes last year – a player with undoubted promise, but who came from a zone-blocking system and was therefore always going to take some time to adjust to playing with the Jets. Ironically, had they remained more patient with him, he might be an ideal fit for their current scheme. Instead, he’s now in Jacksonville where he’s in a battle with Jordan Todman to make the team as the number four running back.

Hayworth Hicks, OL, Panthers

Hicks was with five different teams last season, one of whom was the Jets who claimed him during the season, stashed him on their active roster (without ever activating him) for the minimum three weeks and then tried to waive him and sign him to their practice squad. He didn’t clear waivers and ended up with the Panthers, who brought him back this year. Obviously this is a guy with potential if that many teams had brought him into their system, but not someone who was ready to contribute yet last year. For what it’s worth, Ron Rivera recently said that Hicks has “shown promise” and the Panthers did recently release veteran Geoff Hangartner to create a vacancy.

Daniel Muir, DT, Texans

Muir was with the Jets for a few games last year while Kenrick Ellis was out with a knee injury. He’s apparently having a pretty good camp so far with the Texans, although he did miss some time last week after suffering an ankle injury. With Shaun Cody gone, maybe he has a shot at winning a role. Earl Mitchell is currently slated to start but he’s a little unproven and has only played more than 35 snaps twice in his three year career.

Yeremiah Bell, S, Cardinals

Bell started every game with the Jets last year and is expected to start with the Cardinals, even though he’s now 35. Bell is one of a few Jets that could factor into the calculation of possible compensatory picks in next year’s draft (along with DeVito, Landry, Slauson, Keller and Greene), so we should be rooting for these guys to stay healthy and play a role, otherwise they might no longer qualify.

This list is supposed to be exhaustive, but if you’re aware of anyone I missed, please let me know in the comments!