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Jets Who Can Take Command of Their Battles in Preseason Week 3

Going into the biggest game of the preseason in which starters will see extended time, who has the most to gain with a good performance?

NFL: Preseason-New York Giants at New York Jets William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

Training camp is in the books, and with the third week of the preseason underway that means we are going to get our “realest” look at the 2017 Jets when they hit the road for a visit to the Giants. Who on the Jets roster has positioned themselves to seize control of their roster battles?

Christian Hackenberg/Bryce Petty

Out of nowhere, it appears that Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty are now getting a legitimate shot to make their case to start Week 1 in Buffalo. By most accounts, Josh McCown has been the best quarterback on the Jets throughout training camp and preseason. He’s making the most money. He’s led the team to their only preseason touchdown. He has the most experience.

Despite all of that, the Jets, who have never given anyone a reason to question their logic, have all but taken away McCown’s reps in preparation for the Week 3 game. Most regard this game as the truest dress rehearsal for the regular season. With Week 4 all but reserved for backups, how on earth could the Jets throw out McCown at quarterback Week 1 without him playing against the Giants? Would they really throw out a starter who has played all but one real drive with his offense, four weeks prior?

All of this suggests the team might be giving Hackenberg and Petty their shot against the Giants. Hackenberg had a decent Week 1 game but an awful Week 2 game, ultimately not leading the team to any points. Petty struggled in limited time Week 1 before putting out a decent showing against Detroit. If performance dictated your playing time on the Jets, neither would still be in this type of article today, but here they are. They’ve got one more shot to make their case for Buffalo.

Brandon Shell

The Jets offensive line has taken a lot of heat for its performance this preseason. They appear to be possibly the weakest position outside of quarterback, a scary one-two punch to have at the bottom of your roster.

One promising member of the line is sophomore Brandon Shell. Shell, a fifth-round selection who Mike Maccagnan traded a fourth-round selection for, got some playing time at the end of 2016 and was strong.

Early in preseason, while he has been decent overall, he’s been pushed by Brent Qvale, who has possibly been the most consistent offensive linemen on the team. Shell has showcased the potential to be part of the solution on this line, and with Maccagnan’s investment in him, one final good showing against the devastating Giants pass rush could seal his starting spot.

Dexter McDougle

McDougle was featured in my Week 2 edition of this article, and he delivered yet again in Detroit. The last remaining defender from John Idzik’s 12-man class in 2014, he’s playing his best football at any point in his Jets career.

Playing slot corner, McDougle has done it all, making plays on the ball in coverage, quickly diagnosing and halting run plays for losses, and having an impact as a blitzer. Buster Skrine is the starting slot corner and has held his spot so far. McDougle has likely already secured a roster spot, but yet another good game and he could see significant playing time on this defense.

Josh Martin

With Lorenzo Mauldin missing extended time due to injury, competition for the starting spot on the edge beside Jordan Jenkins has heated up. Making the best case so far has been Martin, who has already proven himself as a high-level special teams player but is now making his presence felt on the edge.

Through two games, Martin leads the team with 2 sacks and 8 tackles, 3 of which were for a loss, also a team high. The smart positioning that has led him to the top of the special teams tackling leaderboard is showing up when he plays on the edge. He’s anticipating plays and always seems to be in the right spot. If he hasn’t done it already, Martin will secure a starting outside linebacker spot if he continues his explosive play against the shaky Giants offensive line.

Who else do you think has a good opportunity to gain ground against the Giants?