The New York Jets first preseason game is next Monday, August 15th, against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. While the offense has new additions at wide receiver, and the defense has youth being served on the front line, there are some questions as to how the special teams will round out especially with some stand out players still not under contract.
Reserve safety James Ihedigbo has been offered a contract by the New York Jets but has neither accepted it as yet, nor reported to camp. Linebacker Lance Laury, who joined the team last year as specialist for Mike Westhoff's special teams unit has not been made a new offer to return for a second season with the Jets. Last week the Jets lost two other special teams assets, CB Drew Coleman and WR/KR Brad Smith to the Jaguars and Bills respectively. Since the news came down today that Jets WR Jerricho Cotchery asked for and received his release from the team, the Jets will also have to look for a new punt return specialist to replace Cotchery in that role. Also, there is still an open competition as to who will be the Jets starting punter between T.J. Conley and Chris Bryan, who formerly played for the Buccaneers.
On a positive note, it appears both second year RB Joe McKnight and rookie WR Jeremy Kerley are showing much promise not only on the offensive side of the ball but as likely replacements to Brad Smith for kickoff returns. Special teams are a critical part of any football game and sometimes can make the difference between a close win or a heartbreaking defeat. I do hope the Jets coaching staff and GM Mike Tannenbaum recognize this and bring back Ihedigbo and Laury as well as look to shore up the rest of the special teams unit, whether it be from within or possible free agents additions about to be signed before that first preseason game.
Update: Sources are confirming that S James Ihedigbo wull not be returning the Jets.
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