Five Bubble Players To Watch

Hayden Smith, right, does something awesome in rugby for which I don't know what the proper term is. But it sure looks awesome. Just look at the guy on the left's face! He knows Smith is about to make him look like a clown.

Hiya. Today, as you all know, is the final pre-season game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Let's hope we can score a touchdown. In the meantime, the starters will almost all ride the pine as the backups get extensive playing time. This is make-or-break for most of these players, many of whom will be cut soon after the game. This truly is their final chance to make an impression, so let's hope they give it their all. Here are five players you should be on the lookout for tonight.

  1. TE Hayden Smith - Smith is most famously known as our Australian rugby player, converted into a tight end. He's obviously extremely raw, but has an incredible amount of talent. He is, and has always been, a project, but with injuries to Dustin Keller, Josh Baker, and a concussion to Jeff Cumberland, this is Smith's chance to really make an impression. If he can step it up tonight, due to the injuries at the position, it's very possible he makes the active roster, rather than just the practice squad.
  2. LB/FB Nick Bellore - Bellore is a linebacker-turned-fullback hybrid that has been playing at both positions in practice. The word is that John Conner, the Terminator, is struggling, and so Bellore may be able to steal his position as the fullback away from him. It's doubtful, but possible. More likely this is Bellore's best shot to gain a spot on the team as a backup linebacker. He's also a special teams ace, so look for him there as well.
  3. CB Ellis Lankster - This is more of a three part grouping. I'm also including Isaiah Trufant and Julian Posey as the three people vying for the fourth cornerback position. Lankster had a lock on the position, but recent injuries have cast doubt on that. Trufant is a stud on special teams, so Mike Westhoff will certainly push to keep him. In my opinion, so far in the pre-season, Posey has done the best job, while Trufant has been trashed in coverage. This should be an interesting battle.
  4. QB Greg McElroy - McElroy is pretty much a lock for the third QB position, over Matt Simms. Last year, he absolutely killed it in the pre-season, only to be injured in the last game. He should be fun to watch this game, and should bring back memories of Chad Pennington. And hopefully get us that touchdown we yearn for.
  5. P Spencer Lanning - Lanning was brought in a few days ago to compete with T.J. Conley, who has struggled so far this pre-season (interestingly, Conley was statistically one of the most efficient punters last year). It's doubtful this journeyman will stick, but I expect the Jets to give him a lot of reps, especially if we keep punting the ball as much as we've had. They'll want to see what he can do to gauge him against Conley.
Bonus: RB Terrance Ganaway - Ganaway hasn't had much practice so far this pre-season, but expect him to get a heavy workload tonight. We should get a good view of if he'll be the bruising back we need to compliment Shonn Greene, or just another wasted pick. I don't like to put too much stock in one game, but if Ganaway wants to make the active roster, he needs to have a breakout game this week.

Edit: Normally I don't add suggestions from the comments, but I thought michael224a made a good one in pointing out the right tackles. It's worth watching Austin Howard and Jason Smith tonight. Howard, as you all know, is our new starter but he'll get some practice time tonight. Smith should get about ten or so plays in as well, so be on the lookout for him. If Howard struggles against backups, we're going to be in trouble.
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