The NFL preseason is a great time for unproven, inexperienced players to prove their worth and fight for a spot on a roster. In the New York Jets’ first preseason game Saturday against the Tennessee Titans, there were a few fringe players who stood out and bettered their chances to make the 53-man roster.
CB Dexter McDougle
McDougle was targeted six times and only allowed one reception for four yards. He also led the team with three pass breakups, including this nice play near the goal line.
Similar to the wide receivers, the Jets have four cornerbacks whose roster spots are essentially locked up — Morris Claiborne, Juston Burris, Buster Skrine and Marcus Williams. Behind that, New York is looking for some depth. McDougle, the Jets’ 2014 third-round pick from Maryland, has struggled with injuries during his three-year career. If healthy, he can battle for a roster spot. His performance on Saturday certainly bolstered his case.
K Ross Martin
The second-year kicker didn’t even get into the game and his chances of making the roster still improved. How? Chandler Catanzaro’s training camp inconsistencies carried over into the preseason. Catanzaro missed a 55-yard field goal attempt wide-right — New York’s only field goal try. After a solid 2015 season, Catanzaro made just 21-of-28 field goals in 2016 for Arizona and has made just 5-of-11 attempts over 50 yards for his career.
While the 24-year-old Martin doesn’t have any NFL regular season experience, he did make a game-winning field goal for the Jets in last year’s preseason. He was also 8-of-10 during his four-year career at Duke on 50+ yard field goals.
WR/PR Frankie Hammond
In the battle for kick returner, Hammond definitely one-upped Lucky Whitehead. Hammond outperformed Whitehead on special teams, returning his one kickoff for 38 yards and averaging a team-high 6.3 yards per punt return. He also contributed on offense, catching two passes for 12 yards on a team-high five targets.
It’s not impossible that the Jets elect to keep both Whitehead and Hammond on the roster, especially if Hammond makes the team to play wide receiver. However, if Hammond excels on both sides of the ball, the Jets may be able to preserve an extra roster spot for a player at another position.
OLB Josh Martin
Martin was arguably the most impressive of many good Jets’ linebackers on Saturday. He tied the team lead in tackles (four) and quarterback hits (two), recovered a fumble and picked up one of New York’s nine sacks.
It was a tremendous evening for Martin, who gained ground on fellow outside linebackers in the heated competition. Neither Lorenzo Mauldin (back) nor Dylan Donahue (sore shoulder) played in the game. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Martin start alongside Jordan Jenkins in Week 2.
ILB Julian Stanford
Stanford had a sack, two tackles for a loss and arguably the most impressive play of the day — a crushing hit on Tennessee quarterback Alex Tanney that temporarily sidelined him.
A look at Julian Stanford's massive sack: pic.twitter.com/3RJAhnkaR2
— New York Jet Fuel (@NewYorkJetFuel) August 13, 2017
Pro Football Focus graded Stanford as the third-best Jet on Saturday, and it was well-deserved.