Jets vs. Bengals: 3 things to watch – Metro US

Jets vs. Bengals: 3 things to watch

Darrin Walls Darrin Walls will have an opportunity to step up with Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougle out.
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The second preseason game tends to separate the men from the boys a little, and the Jets are hoping to have some players hit puberty sooner rather than later. The Bengals were a playoff team last year, so it should be a good test for the Jets.

But the trip to southwestern Ohio isn’t always pleasant for the Jets.

The Jets were run off the field by the Bengals in their worst loss of last season in Week 8.

The 49-9 score line was bad, but the benching of rookie quarterback Geno Smith and first-round pick cornerback Dee Milliner turned out to be a season-low for this team.

The Jets come into this game with confidence off a 13-10 win against the Colts.

Metro looks at three storylines to watch as the Jets travel to Cincinnati for Saturday’s game (7 p.m., CBS2).

1. Primary problem

The losses of Milliner — indefinitely with a high ankle sprain — and Dexter McDougle — to a season-ending torn ACL — is bad for a Jets secondary that was without first-round pick safety Calvin Pryor (concussion) for last week’s preseason opener.

Exacerbating the issue, Dimitri Patterson was poor in the Colts game, giving up big yards and an even bigger cushion in his coverage.

The Bengals game will be an opportunity to see how Ras-I Dowling, Darrin Walls and Ellis Lankster can step into the cornerback competition. In addition, safety Antonio Allen has been getting reps at cornerback. Given his background in college at linebacker, he would have some mobility concerns matching up against wide receivers. But Allen has done well in coverage against tight ends in the past.

2. Speed to burn

The Jets’ wide receiving corps added a big name in Eric Decker this offseason, they have a returning young star-in-the-making in Jeremy Kerley and a former high draft pick with a lot to prove in Stephen Hill. So it would be easy to overlook Saalim Hakim in the wide receiver shuffle.

A former undrafted rookie free agent out of small-time Palomar Junior College in 2012, Hakim is a speedster who is raw fundamentally but can stretch defenses. Hakim, the younger brother of former Rams and Lions wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim, ran a 4.22-second 40-yard dash at his pro day a couple years ago. He has been impressive in training camp, but it remains to be seen if he can perform that way in pads.

3. Land of Punt

Punter Ryan Quigley was the unknown trying to unseat incumbent starter T.J. Conley this time last year. Now Quigley is the one looking to hold onto his job with Jacob Schum trying to take it away. Schum punted twice against the Colts for a 41.5 yards per punt average with one kick inside the 20-yard line. His average per punt total was better than Quigley’s, who is noted for his directional kicking ability. It could be one of the more intriguing battles of training camp. Quigley should have the edge, but he needs two solid games in preseason to hold onto the starting job.

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.