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Pelzman: Gholston Can Only Start on Merit


Late in the spring, Ryan noted that Gholston "gets better every day," yet, truth be told, two other young linebackers stood out more often during practices observed by the media. Marques Murrell and Jason Trusnik, both third-year players, had eye-opening springs, and Ryan even cited Murrell for his good play on the final day of mandatory mini-camp. And Trusnik has something neither Murrell nor Gholston can boast of, an actual NFL sack, recorded during the 2008 season finale against Miami.

Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine believe they can unlock Gholston's potential. But maybe the best idea for using Gholston right now is to make him a situational pass-rusher, and take advantage of his obvious college strength.

No matter what happens, Ryan and the Jets must follow general manager Mike Tannenbaum's oft-stated mantra that "the best players will play" and start. If that means the guy from Appalachian State (Murrell) or the guy from Ohio Northern (Trusnik), then so be it.

This kind of goes without saying. Rex Ryan is in the business of winning football games, not justifying high salaries. Gholston's high salary and top ten status probably hurt him more than help him right now. His awful rookie year makes it seem like he has a longer way to go than an undrafted free agent like Trusnik or Murrell, who have contributed almost as little.