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Sifting Through The Specials

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NFL: Minnesota Vikings at New York Jets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

This time of year everybody wants to know who is going to make the team. The top 40 or so players are fairly obvious to any fan paying attention. It’s the back of the roster that gets a bit tricky. One lens to view this from that may shed some light on the matter is the use of players on special teams. Sifting through who is getting extensive action on special teams may provide some clues as to who will make the 53 man roster, because the back of the roster guys primarily earn their keep through special teams play. Let’s take a look at who is playing a large role on special teams for the Jets.

We’ll focus on who saw the most special teams action in the third pre-season game, since that’s the one that most resembles a regular season contest. Special teams players tend to be defensive backs, linebackers, tight ends and wide receivers. Running backs occasionally show up. Offensive linemen are in on punting and kicking teams, but they tend to just be the starters, so we’ll ignore them in this article. Defensive linemen rarely get in on much special teams action. We’ll break this down by position groups because these special teamers tend to be competing for spots on the roster primarily with other players in the same position groups.

Here are the special teams snaps for Jets players in the third pre-season game, broken down by position and limited to players who got at least 10% of the special teams snaps.

Linebackers

Harvey Langi 20

Albert McClellan 18

Tarell Basham 16

Blake Cashman 16

James Burgess 13

Frankie Luvu 12

Neville Hewitt 8

Anthony Wint 8

Stephone Anthony 8

Tight Ends

Eric Tomlinson 17

Daniel Brown 7

Ryan Griffin 10

Defensive Backs

Doug Middleton 15

Arthur Maulet 15

Rontez Miles 14

Godwin Igwebuike 10

Brian Poole 9

Marcus Cooper 7

Tevaughn Campbell 7

Alex Brown 6

Parry Nickerson 4

Wide Receivers

Charone Peake 18

Josh Bellamy 11

Deonte Thompson 7

Greg Dortch 4

Running Backs

Trenton Cannon 12

There are some interesting things to note here. Harvey Langi was in on more special teams snaps in the third pre-season game than any other Jet. He’s probably making the team.

Close behind Langi among the linebackers was newly acquired Albert McClellan at 18 snaps. The other newly acquired linebacker, Stephone Anthony, only saw 8 special team snaps. If those two are fighting for one spot, the smart money’s probably on McClellan. Anthony Wint also got only 8 special teams snaps. Given that special teams are probably Wint’s only path to the roster, that isn’t a good look for him.

Among the tight ends Eric Tomlinson led in special teams snaps by a wide margin with 17. If the other tight ends had shown something on offense that might not matter. However, given that none of the tight ends has shown anything on offense, we may be looking at a surprise return engagement for Tomlinson. Trevon Wesco got only one special teams snap. If he wasn’t a rookie fourth round pick that might bode ill for his chances of making the team.

Not many surprises among the defensive backs, where veteran special teams ace Rontez Miles had 14 snaps and fellow backup safety Doug Middleton led the way with 15 snaps. Cornerback Arthur Maulet might be a bit of a surprise as he also had 15 snaps. A bigger surprise is Godwin Igwebuike with 10 snaps. Perhaps he is working his way into a spot at the back of the roster. Parry Nickerson got just four special teams snaps, another indication last year’s sixth round pick may not be long for this roster.

Among the wide receivers the big surprise is Charone Peake, who led all wide receivers by a wide margin with 18 special teams snaps, trailing only Harvey Langi’s 20 among all Jets. This may be an indication that Peake’s career isn’t quite done yet. Don’t be shocked if he ends up making the team solely for his special teams work.

What do you think about the special teams? Do these numbers surprise you in any way? Do they make you re-think some of the guys who might comprise the back end of the 53 man roster? Let us know your thoughts.