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Jets face tough roster decisions at receiver, linebacker (maybe not QB)

Here come the cuts.

Now that the preseason is over, the New York Jets can get down to the business of finalizing their 53-man roster. The process will start Friday, but they have until 4 p.m. Saturday ET to pare the roster by 22. Coach Todd Bowles, speaking Thursday night after losing to the Philadelphia Eagles, said five or six spots remain up in the air.

The toughest decisions:

Quarterback -- It's the question on everybody's lips: Will the Jets be the first team since 2013 to carry four quarterbacks on the opening-day roster? The landscape changed Thursday night in Philadelphia, where Bryce Petty suffered a shoulder injury. Tough break for Petty, but it clarifies the Jets' depth chart. If they were thinking of parting ways with Geno Smith, forget about it. He will be Ryan Fitzpatrick's primary backup and rookie Christian Hackenberg will be the No. 3. Petty? It depends on the severity of his injury. Injured reserve is an option, but it looks as though all four will be sticking around.

Running back -- This seems fairly cut-and-dried, assuming Khiry Robinson gets a hall pass. He didn't make his preseason debut until Thursday night, as he needed time to recover from last season's broken leg. He'll join Matt Forte, Bilal Powell and fullback Tommy Bohanon in the backfield.

Wide receiver -- The emergence of the kiddie corps (Robby Anderson, Jalin Marshall and Charone Peake) has made this position more competitive than anyone could've imagined. One or two probably will make the team, with Bowles not dismissing the possibility of keeping all three rookies. Marshall gets the edge because he can return punts and kickoffs. Peake's advantage is that he's a draft pick, and general managers hate cutting draft picks. Anderson is ideal for the practice squad, but he might not get through waivers after a productive preseason -- 13 catches for 264 yards and three touchdowns. Veteran returner Jeremy Ross is on the bubble.

Tight end -- Chances are, Kellen Davis, Jace Amaro and Zach Sudfeld will claim jobs, although no one is a lock other than Davis. Amaro faded after a promising start to camp, putting himself in danger. Truth be told, Sudfeld probably is a better receiver than Amaro. Sudfeld also is heavily involved in special teams. Brandon Bostick is lurking.

Offensive line -- The big question surrounds right tackle Breno Giacomini (back), a candidate for reserve/physically-unable-to-perform. If he land on the PUP list, removing him from the roster, it means he's not eligible to return until Week 7. That would leave the starting job to Ben Ijalana or Brent Qvale, neither of whom has started a game in the NFL. Wesley Johnson, Brandon Shell and Dakota Dozier probably will make it as backups.

Defensive line -- They have five starting-caliber players, but one -- Sheldon Richardson -- won't be on the opening-day roster because of a personal-conduct suspension. They could go with only four linemen for a week, but they probably will add one or two younger players. Lawrence Thomas, an undrafted rookie from Michigan State, has been flying under the radar, but he's a favorite of the coaches. He could snag that last spot. Deon Simon also is in the conversation.

Linebacker -- The first seven are clear: David Harris, Erin Henderson, Lorenzo Mauldin, Jordan Jenkins, Darron Lee, Bruce Carter and Mike Catapano. Carter has a shoulder injury that bears watching. They'll keep eight or nine, so Julian Stanford, Josh Martin, Trevor Reilly and Freddie Bishop are fighting for one or two spots. Stanford and Martin get the edge because of special teams.

Secondary -- The biggest questions involve two former picks from the John Idzik regime, Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougle. Despite a disappointing preseason, Milliner, drafted ninth overall in 2013, will slip through (barely) because his $2.1 million salary is guaranteed -- unless they can find a team willing to surrender a draft pick. McDougle, a third-round pick in '14, hasn't been able to stay healthy. He could stick if they keep six corners. Only five safeties remain on the roster. Doug Middleton, an undrafted rookie from Appalachian State, could crash the party.

Specialists -- It's easy peasy: Kicker Nick Folk, punter Lachlan Edwards and snapper Tanner Purdum.