The New York Jets drafted quarterback Zach Wilson in 2021, who they hope is their franchise quarterback of the future. Now the goal is to put players around him — on both sides of the ball — that can help him develop and help the franchise win games. As New York Jets training camp gets underway, here are three positional battles to watch closely.
New York Jets Training Camp Info
Location: Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, Florham Park, New Jersey
Rookies report: Tuesday, July 19, 2022
Veterans report: Tuesday, July 26, 2022
First game: vs. Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, September 11, 1:00 p.m. EST
Battle No. 1: RB1 — Breece Hall vs. Michael Carter
Last season, Michael Carter won the role of Jets No. 1 running back. He produced a solid season, rushing 147 times for 639 yards and scoring four touchdowns. The rookie fourth-round pick also added 36 catches for 325 yards.
In the 2022 NFL Draft, the Jets took the best running back in the class, Iowa State’s Breece Hall. The 5-foot-11, 217-pound back — who also happens to be Roger Craig’s cousin — is the prototypical NFL three-down, bell-cow back.
Hall will come into camp as the presumed Week 1 starter, but this New York Jets training camp battle is still worth watching.
NFL fans have seen plenty of highly-touted rookies not pick up some aspect of the NFL game quickly, and Carter won’t give up the job without a fight.
Even if Hall does win the job outright — which he probably will — the backfield will feature some kind of time split.
Battle No. 2: FS — Lamarcus Joyner vs. Jason Pinnock
The New York Jets training camp battle for the free safety spot may not be the sexiest positional fight, but it is among the most important.
Robert Salah made his name in the NFL with the Legion of Boom with the Seattle Seahawks, and, to win games in NYC, he’s trying to put together another top-class secondary.
Salah and general manager Joe Douglas have already added strong safety Jordan Whitehead and cornerbacks Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and D.J. Reed this offseason. Now he needs his free safety.
The contenders for this position are last year’s free-agent acquisition, veteran Lamarcus Joyner and second-year safety Jason Pinnock.
Joyner is an experienced vet, but he’s 31 and went down in Week 1 last season with a season-ending elbow injury.
Pinnock is inexperienced, but at 6-foot, 205-pounds, he is incredibly athletic, and at 23 years old, he could be a long-term piece in a way Joyner can’t. He’s also a converted college CB, so he has ball skills that could make him Salah’s next Earl Thomas.
Battle No. 3: TE1 — CJ Uzomah vs. Tyler Conklin vs. Jeremy Ruckert
In the name of upgrading Zach Wilson’s weapons in 2022, the New York Jets signed two veteran tight ends (CJ Uzomah from the Cincinnati Bengals and Tyler Conklin from the Minnesota Vikings). They also drafted Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert in Round 3.
Both Uzomah and Conklin are good — not great — TEs who lost targets to elite WRs last season. Ironically, the same was true for Ruckert, who toiled between Garrett Wilson (who is still his teammate in the pros) and Chris Olave.
The Jets will likely play a lot of two and even three tight end sets in 2022, so all these players will see action. However, the franchise is bett8ng there is a true No. 1 TE inside one of these guys if given the right opportunity.
The result will likely be a relatively even split between Uzomah and Conklin, but if one does grab hold of the top spot, Uzomah is the most likely candidate.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference