3 storylines to watch as Jets open training camp

Damon Harrison
The monstrous Damon Harrison was a big key for the Jets last season.
Credit: Getty Images

Jets head coach Rex Ryan might be in for an even tougher job in 2014 after arguably his best coaching job last season.

Expectations are raised with the bulk of his defense returning, additions to a bland offsense last season and 12 draft picks adding depth on the both sides of the ball.

Another season of .500 football isn’t good enough in an era of raised expectations. The Jets could be a playoff team this year, even with a difficult schedule and a rapidly improving AFC East. And while Ryan dodged perceived doom last year by coaching his team into playoff contention in December, the Jets have to make the postseason this year.

That’s something they haven’t done under Ryan since 2010. A fourth year without the playoffs might lead general manager John Idzik to make a very difficult choice and let go of the immensely popular Ryan.

There are no excuses for this team. Ryan’s bravado seems to have returned in painting the Jets as a playoff team. But the swagger for the head coach is a double-edged sword, as he has to back up the talk with a winning season.

If he doesn’t, then he’s coaching at Rutgers next year.

Three storylines to watch …

1. No quarterback competition

The starting quarterback job is Geno Smith’s job – not his to lose, it’s just his job. Even as management has used the “competition” mantra across the board over the past year, it clearly won’t apply to the most important position on the field. Veteran Michael Vick was brought in solely to mentor Smith it appears — a head scratcher given his experience in the West Coast offense.

But no matter how well Vick plays or how poorly Smith does, it won’t matter much. Smith will be the starter in preseason and Week 1 despite what unfolds in training camp. This isn’t Debbie Downer talk, it’s just reality. Smith is the starter and there is no quarterback battle.

2. Guarded concern

Rookie Brian Winters had struggles when slotted into the starting left guard job midseason. While he improved, he still has shortcomings — including short arms which lead to struggles against the bull-rush. With veteran right guard Willie Colon recovering from offseason knee surgery, there is precious depth at either guard position. Rookie Oday Aboushi was on the 53-man roster last season but wasn’t active for any games.

Winters should be better, but if Colon isn’t ready to go, Aboushi is a major question mark. He does get credit for reshaping his body this offseason and adding strength. Now he has to prove he can transition from being a tackle in college to a starting guard in the NFL where he must be stronger and more physical.

3. Nose tackle depth

Last year’s defense was so good largely because of the work done by Damon Harrison and Kenrick Ellis at nose tackle. Harrison stepped up as an undrafted rookie free agent to play a major role in his second season along the defensive line. Kenrick Ellis, now entering his fourth year in the league, took major steps forward in his development. If both players continue their development — in particular Ellis, who made huge strides physically last year — the Jets could have two young anchors for their defensive line who are both selfless, team players.

Three names to watch …

1. Trevor Reilly

The outside linebacker is a 26-year-old rookie but he had a solid offseason so far and if he can develop, would add tremendous depth to a linebacker two-deep that is very thin across the board after the starters.

2. Ellis Lankster

The cornerback was re-signed by the Jets primarily for his work on special teams, but showed some real promise at cornerback this offseason. He made a lot of plays and if he can continue to do so, he could be a nice addition to the secondary this year.

3. Kyle Wilson

Most Jets fans have written off the former first-round pick as a disappointment, but his fifth year in the league could be a good one. Wilson will be asked to play more inside — a strength of his — than on the outside where he has struggled. If Dee Milliner and Dimitri Patterson can hold down the two outside spot, then Wilson slides inside where he’s excelled in the past.

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.


New Apple devices include default kill switch

By Marina LopesWASHINGTON (Reuters) - New Apple Inc phones include a theft deterrent system that enables users to lock their devices and wipe them clean…


PHOTO: Photographer comes face-to-face with deadly crocodile

A deadly crocodile comes face-to-face with a courageous photographer, who manages to take a set of jaw-dropping pictures of the teeth-baring reptile.


Brooklyn packed for annual West Indian Day Parade

Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway was packed Monday with an estimated one million people showing up on Labor Day to celebrate West Indian culture.


James Michael Tyler on Gunther, Central Perk and…

We spoke with Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at the preview for new pop-up Central Perk, based on the cafe in "Friends."


Rita Wilson joins the fall lineup at Cafe…

As a ticket-taker at the Universal Amphitheater in Orlando in the mid-'70s, actress, producer and singer Rita Wilson found musical inspiration in good supply, including…


Review: Kevin Smith's 'Tusk' is insane even for…

Kevin Smith returns to the horror genre, only with more jokes this time, with "Tusk," in which Michael Parks wants to turn Justin Long into a walrus.


Fall Arts Guide: NYC's repertory film scene boasts…

Among the best repertory film series in NYC this fall include old subway movies at BAM, Capra at Film Forum and actual celluloid at the IFC Center.


Needtobreathe's revival: From broken up to resurrected

Needtobreathe talks about breaking up and reuniting while recording their latest album, "Rivers in the Wastelands."


Eric Decker 'unlikely to play' against Bears: Source

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker's status for Monday night’s game against the Bears is in doubt after he missed practice again Wednesday.


Preston Parker, not Odell Beckham, will replace Jerrel…

Tom Coughlin noted the next man up will be unheralded veteran Preston Parker.


NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)


Fantasy football: Run with Knile Davis, Khiry Robinson,…

Fantasy football: Run with Knile Davis, Khiry Robinson, Donald Brown


Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…


Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…


Here's why the newly-crowned Miss America deleted her…

Miss America pageant winner Kira Kazantsev quietly deleted her LinkedIn profile this week after her work history came under attack by conservative critics. Many of the…


Zosia Mamet explains why leaning in is not…

Zosia Mamet is living proof that even if you don't think you can get a job you're going for, you should still try. Along with…