Practice Squad Maneuvers

The Jets in recent years have made a habit of churning the back end of their roster and their practice squad, frequently picking up and releasing players on a weekly basis. Much of this activity often seems inexplicable, but I believe it may be rooted in practice squad rules. Once you have had any season where you spent 8 or more games on the 53 man roster, you are no longer eligible for the practice squad. And practice squad eligibility ends entirely after your 3rd year of spending at least 3 games on the practice squad. So, much of the churning at the back end of the roster is likely maneuvering to evaluate as many guys as possible while simultaneously preserving as much practice squad eligibility as possible. Guys get evaluated and released, then on to the next guy for evaluation, until somebody catches the Jets' eye enough to keep for the year.

This brings us to some churning that took place yesterday. The Jets released CB LeQuan Lewis from the practice squad, as well as WR Royce Pollard, and signed WR Stanley Arukwe to the practice squad. Arukwe is a 23 year old UDFA out of Troy University. He played only 1 year of college football after transferring to Troy as a track athlete from Modesto (Calif.) Junior College. As a track athlete Arukwe has blazing speed, running as fast as 10.3 in the 100m and burning an unofficial 4.19 40 at his pro day. At Troy Arukwe’s speed stood out as coaches debated giving him a shot to walk on for his final year of eligibility. He proved his worth as a receiver during fall camp, and carved his way onto special teams as well. He played WR as well as serving as a gunner on kickoff coverage and as a blocker on punt returns. His WR stats were modest, as he had to earn his shot as a walk-on. Arukwe finished his 1 year at Troy with 12 catches for 231 yards and no TDs.

During training camp with the Jets this year Arukwe flashed some in the gunner role. There might at some point be a spot for him on the active roster in the gunner role currently filled by Ellis Lankster and Isaiah Trufant. If the Jets are unhappy with either of them, perhaps Arukwe gets a shot.

It's worth noting that Arukwe continues the Sanjay Lal transformation of the Jets WR corps in Oakland's image. He is yet another WR with blazing sub 4.4 speed, joining Stephen Hill, Chaz Schilens, and Clyde Gates. Never have the Jets had so much speed and athleticism at the WR position. It will be interesting to see if over time that translates into an Oakland style big play offense. It would be fun to watch a Jets team consistently hit on deep strikes down the field. I don't remember a Jets team taking this approach since the days of Wesley Walker and Lam Jones. If the Sanjay Lal experiment works out, we could all be in for a thrilling ride.

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