Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer 15d

Jets will benefit in long term from Jeremy Kerley's suspension

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jeremy Kerley suspension will hurt the New York Jets in the short term because he's a reliable possession receiver for Josh McCown, who lives on short passes. If you still believe the Jets (4-5) can make a playoff run, you're not happy about this.

But, as we often do with this team, every move must be analyzed through two prisms -- present and future. Taking a 10,000-foot view of the suspension, it's not such a bad thing.

Kerley's four-game absence will create playing time for rookies ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen. Until now, they were stuck behind Kerley, Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson, limited to only a few snaps per game. That's no way to develop players. Young players need to be on the field, and this will give them a chance to learn and grow.

"Those guys will get a lot more repetitions, and we'll look into other gymnastics, maybe bringing somebody else up or bringing somebody else in," coach Todd Bowles said Monday.

Stewart (four catches) and Hansen (zero) will be part of next year's receiving corps, which will welcome back Quincy Enunwa, who is on injured reserve. It has a chance to be a solid group, albeit without star power. Kerley, 28, will be a free agent and probably won't be back. Once upon a time, circa 2011 (the year he was drafted by the Jets), he was part of the future. Not now.

This isn't to suggest Kerley is having a bad year. In fact, he has 22 receptions on 27 targets for an impressive catch percentage of 81.5 percent, which ranks 13th in the league. He and McCown, thrown together in Week 1 when Kerley arrived after being cut by the San Francisco 49ers, developed instant chemistry.

In that sense, Kerley will be missed, but it's not a crippling blow. He wasn't targeted a single time Thursday night, and the Jets still managed to rout the Buffalo Bills.

They also will have to break in a new punt returner (look for rookie Elijah McGuire), but no one will shed tears for losing Kerley in this role, especially after his costly muff against the Atlanta Falcons.

Receivers coach Karl Dorrell believes Stewart and Hansen are ready for their shot.

"I want to get them integrated as quickly as possible and as much as I can because this is a valuable year for them," Dorrell said in a recent interview. "They're not called upon to do much as of now, but they're going to be, and fairly soon. The way I coach them is, 'Your day is coming when you least expect it.'"

In retrospect, Dorrell's words sound prophetic. He said Stewart and Hansen are "antsy" and "very confident in their abilities." He added, "They're excited about playing. When they get their opportunity, they're going to come in and do quite well."

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