Jets youngsters Robbie Anderson, Bryce Petty and Zach Sudfeld making cases for roster spots
The veteran squad is getting big preseason contributions from younger players.
The Jets are a veteran, win-now outfit, but judging by the recent play of some of its youngsters, they’re showing they can also offer help.
Quarterback Bryce Petty is making things rather difficult for a Jets’ coaching staff that may not be too keen on keeping four signal callers on its final 53-man roster. But due to his recent performances, the second-year veteran is thumbing his nose at the dissenters — and that’s actually a good problem for the Jets.
Petty went 15-of-24 with 230 yards and two touchdowns — and more importantly, no turnovers — in the Jets’ 22-18 defeat at Washington. And with Geno Smith looking anything but solid, Petty could actually go from being on the fringe of being cut to actually make the No. 2 quarterback spot open to competition. Smith ended his second drive with a telegraphed pass to rookie wideout Charone Peake that was intercepted by Will Blackmon in the final moments before halftime. The throw — and read — weren’t pretty, which was the opposite of Petty’s night.
The former Baylor star was by far the best-looking quarterback wearing green. And he showed his inner Brett Favre on one particular touchdown when he hung tough in the pocket and delivered a laser, between two defenders, to hulking tight end Zach Sudfeld for the 19-yard score, just as the quarterback got drilled from the blindside.
Sudfeld, who for the first time was playing in the same professional game as his brother, Washington rookie quarterback Nate, showed his wares with the athletic reception. The 6-foot-6 Sudfeld, an undrafted player out of Nevada who was bypassed by every team in the 2013 draft, is trying to catch on with Gang Green after being cut a couple times and suffering an ACL injury during his brief NFL career. Sudfeld is trying to latch on, and with that catch on film, it could only help his cause. It was the tight end’s first touchdown in any type of game since his rookie season with the New England Patriots.
Another undrafted player is trying to catch the attention of head coach Todd Bowles, and that’s rookie wideout Robby Anderson. Fighting for a roster spot with fellow rookie wideouts Jalin Marshall (undrafted) and Peake (seventh round), Anderson had six receptions for 131 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown late in the game, on a beautiful stop-and-go fly route. He also had a terrific 50-yard reception to start the fourth quarter when he caught a go-route from Petty.
The young passer has certainly noticed the smooth effort of his rookie, noting that Anderson “has a sneaky way of making the hard catches look easy.”
Anderson is a long shot to make the roster, but with added performances like this, he’ll also cause a good problem for Bowles and company. The Temple product was the first Jet to garner over 100 yards receiving in a preseason game since Ryan Spadola in 2013 against the New York Giants. And his 131 yards were the most in any type of game for the Jets since David Clowney racked up 163 yards against the Cleveland Browns in 2008.
Bowles can only hope these unsung players continue to make his choices difficult as the regular season and cut-down days near, because it not only makes daily practices that much more competitive, but also displays just how deep these Jets are.
Gang Green notes: