FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The good news about the New York Jets is they have several undecided starting jobs, which means there's plenty of competition in training camp.
The bad news about the Jets is they have several undecided starting jobs, which means they lack clear-cut answers.
It's really a matter of perspective: intense competition or unsettled mess? It's not hard to figure out Todd Bowles' take.
"I tell the guys all the time: If my decision is easy, then we're not competing hard enough and we don't have enough good guys," the coach said. "As you get the nucleus of your team together, the harder the competition, the harder my job is to make a decision and the better we'll be."
Let's take a look at the most competitive (unsettled?) areas:
Quarterback: Truth be told, no one has risen to the challenge, but there are still preseason games to be played. Right now, the leader is veteran Josh McCown, if only by default. Christian Hackenberg hasn't capitalized on his expanded role in practice, but he can make a statement with a strong performance against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night. Prediction: McCown.
Right tackle: Brent Qvale and Brandon Shell have been splitting first-team reps, and it's a toss-up after two weeks of practice. If both fail to impress in the games, the Jets can turn to Ben Ijalana, a valuable swing tackle. Prediction: A draw. They'll go into the season with a two-headed right tackle, Shell and Qvale, just as they did last season with Qvale and Ijalana.
Center: Everyone assumed Wesley Johnson would take over for Nick Mangold, but Jonotthan Harrison impressed early in camp and is getting some work with the first team. Bowles called it a "good battle" between Johnson and Harrison, an Indianapolis Colts castoff. Prediction: Johnson.
Outside linebacker: Welcome to the twin revolving doors on defense. Both spots are wide open (strongside and weakside), with a large cast of candidates rotating every day in practice. Let's see, there's Jordan Jenkins, Lorenzo Mauldin, Josh Martin, Dylan Donahue, Frank Beltre and Freddie Bishop, who has flashed in recent practices. Former draft picks usually get the edge, meaning Jenkins and Mauldin, but they've yet to separate themselves from the pack. Prediction: Jenkins and Mauldin.
Cornerback: A lot of folks expected Juston Burris to overtake Buster Skrine for the No. 2 spot, but that has yet to materialize. Skrine has been working with the first-team defense on a regular basis, with Burris joining him and Morris Claiborne in the nickel package. Burris could change some minds by playing well in the games, but it's trending toward a Skrine-Claiborne tandem as of now. Prediction: Skrine.
Kicker: The battle between Chandler Catanzaro and Ross Martin is "close," according to Bowles. "It's give-and-take. We'll see who shows up when the lights come on." On the practice field, Martin has outperformed Catanzaro, who's had a couple of awful days. Catanzaro has NFL experience, Martin doesn't. A year ago, Martin had a small chance to unseat Nick Folk, but he got the yips in the preseason and was released. Prediction: Martin in a slight upset.