Here is Part III of our daily training-camp preview.
Unit: Wide Receivers
Depth Chart: Jerricho Cotchery, Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Brad Smith, David Clowney, Danny Woodhead, Aundrae Allison, Marcus Henry, Britt Davis, Larry Taylor.
On the Bubble: Woodhead, Allison, Henry, Davis, Taylor.
Player to Watch: Holmes. The Pittsburgh Steelers castoff has the talent to be a No. 1 receiver. The question is whether he can stay out of trouble when he’s away from the team, serving a four-game suspension at the start of the regular season. The other question is how long it will take him to get up to speed, mentally and physically, after missing four weeks.
Wild Card: Clowney. He’s always Mr. August, dazzling in the preseason with his deep speed. He must prove he’s more than a one-trick pony. He’ll also get a shot for a big role on special teams, a candidate to replace Wallace Wright on the coverage units.
Analysis: A year ago, the starter opposite Jerricho Cotchery was Chansi Stuckey. Now they have three No. 1-caliber receivers. Wow, talk about an upgrade. The goal in camp is to define the roles of the Big Three – Cotchery, Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes. Cotchery can play any of the receiver positions, which helps tremendously. Edwards and Holmes are most familiar with the X (split end), but you probably will see Edwards at times at the Z (flanker). He worked there in the spring, and he likes it because he’ll be in motion, enabling him to get clean releases off the line. Holmes says he wouldn’t mind it, either; he lobbied the Steelers for years to expand his role only to be limited to split end. Not that it was a bad thing; dude had 1,200 yards last season.
Holmes will get plenty of pre-season game reps because of his looming suspension. He has a lot of learning to do in a short amount of time. Because of the suspension, the Jets have to find a No. 3 receiver for the first four games. Brad Smith is the leading candidate, but he’s never really flourished as a receiver, perhaps because he’s asked to do so many other things. This is David Clowney’s big chance, his opportunity to make a move. Danny Woodhead, whom we listed Tuesday with the running backs, is in the mix. At 5-6, he’s too small to be a full-time receiver; he’ll have to make it on the jack-of-all-trades platform. Aundrae Allison, coming back from a major knee injury, has a chance because of his pure speed and ability to return kickoffs.