Today Rex Ryan announced that the Jets have made a move on their roster by releasing fullback John Conner and promoting linebacker Marcus Dowtin to the active roster from the practice squad. In summation, Rex told reporters in Florham Park today that ”quite honestly, we needed [roster] spots.”
With the amount of injuries that the Jets have dealt with over the last month, Ryan is on the mark, but it also shows how the Jets feel about Conner. Hilliard might not be a world-beater … he was on the street just a short time ago, but he’s at least been consistent. Earlier this week when Bent wrote his BGA piece, he had this to say about Hilliard. ”His run blocking hasn’t been that good so far, but I think the Jets are benefiting from his consistency.”
Brian Bassett, theJetsBlog.com
And I think that’s the key. Yes, Hilliard might not have graded out well, but they knew there wouldn’t be wild swings in his play because of his lapses in picking up the offense. Conner might have been Rex’s guy when the team drafted him over two years ago, but he’s not picked up the Sparano offense as fast as the team would have liked and Lex Hilliard has stepped into and taken over his role during his time out. So when push came to shove for the roster spot, the Jets did what they had to do.
Also in a week where the Jets are pressed at the running back spot, Hilliard is a player that the Jets can trust with some carries to take the burden off what looks to be Greene & Grimes this weekend.
Of course the Jets didn’t rule out bringing back Conner at some point soon. According to the Daily News, Rex told the media that in reaching an injury settlement with Conner the move “doesn’t preclude us from bringing him back at some point… that is a possibility that he could be back with us.”
I expect that Conner will be at some point, but they might not be in a rush and the injury settlement could keep him satisfied should he feel like a satisfactory gentlemen’s agreement exists with the team.
As far as Dowtin, he’s a player that I’ve had my eye on since he was brought in. Here’s what I wrote about Dowtin in our season preview.
Marcus Dowtin (6-2 230 lbs) is a player who most recently played at North Alabama, but who was a legit SEC prospect playing at Georgia before a number injuries and off-field discipline issues caused him to get his scholarship revoked and pushing Dowtin to transfer. Dowtin has an intriguing set of physical skills and based on that he should be able to make an immediate impact on special teams. Like Davis, his presence is an indication that the Jets are looking for a new breed of linebacker equipped to play in more four-man fronts. As far as defensively, Dowtin has the ability to play at multiple spots behind a fast-flowing four man line and could even fare well in nickel linebacker duties. In fact, there has even been some talk of moving him to safety.
The cloud with Dowtin is the obvious judgement issues (scooter accident, second degree assault charge) but the Jets haven’t shied away from talented players with troubled pasts recently and so Dowtin should be no different. More than likely Dowtin is going to need to demonstrate to the Jets that he can be a team player, and more than likely other teams won’t be beating down his door during that probationary process. Dowtin showed some progress this summer and now he’ll see time on the practice squad as the Jets evaluate him further.
Dowtin has that SEC pedigree which NFL coaches love, but his issues off the field seem to have degraded his chance of getting drafted. All the same, Dowtin represents an interesting 4-3 linebacker or potential safety for the Jets. Facing a fast and spread em out team like the Patriots, a player like Dowtin could be valuable. I would be surprised if the Jets activated Dowtin for this weekend’s game, but you never know …