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NY Jets Spotlight: Bilal Powell

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NFL: Buffalo Bills at New York Jets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Spotlight. Here we spotlight one key player for each game of the season, hopefully putting a different player in the spotlight each week. Today's player in the spotlight is New York Jets running back Bilal Powell.

Bilal Powell is a 29 year old, 5' 11", 205 pound running back out of Louisville University. Powell was drafted by the New York Jets with the 126th overall selection in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL draft.

Bilal Powell got off to a slow start in his career, barely seeing the field his rookie year of 2011. By 2012 however Powell had improved enough to earn a permanent spot in the Jets running backs rotation, and while he has never been the undisputed lead back, Powell has been a key contributor in the Jets backfield ever since.

When Bilal Powell has gotten a chance to lead he has not disappointed. In the last four games of 2016 Bilal Powell took over as the bell cow after backfield mate Matt Forte went down with an injury. Over those last four games of the 2016 season all Powell managed to produce was the third most yards from scrimmage in the NFL, including a career day, gaining 179 yards from scrimmage and scoring a career high two touchdowns in one game. Not bad. Not bad at all. Matt Forte is out again for this game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers so Powell will once again assume lead back responsibilities.

Sunday's game against the Bucs represents a chance to be a difference maker for Bilal Powell. The Buccaneers have had trouble stopping the run lately, having given up 150+ yards on the ground in three of their last four games. With the Jets shorthanded at receiver this would be the ideal game to break out a dominant rushing attack centered around perhaps the Jets’ best weapon on offense, Bilal Powell.

Bilal Powell has never been a lead back in the NFL, and many are skeptical he can be effective in that role. Last year’s closing four game stretch represented a first step towards proving he can be a lead back, and Powell responded in spectacular fashion. This year Forte may be out for extended action, and even if he isn’t, Powell is now establishing himself as the alpha dog in the Jets’ backfield. In any event, this game is crucial to any post season hopes the Jets might harbor. This is probably the single most winnable game remaining on the Jets schedule. Win and the Jets are a .500 team in the thick of a playoff race. Lose and it’s probably all over as far as any post season hopes are concerned. That's Bilal Powell's call to arms on Sunday. Bilal Powell, this is your time in the spotlight. This is your opportunity to state your case to be an alpha back in this league and lead your team to a crucial win. May you shine brightly this Sunday in the balmy confines of Tampa Bay.