Position Battles: Safety

With the Jets stockpiling safety talent through the draft and free agency, Rex Ryan will have to determine who starts and who sits come the regular season.

Rex Ryan has left little doubt as to who is going to be taking the snaps under center at the start of the regular season. However, beyond that position, he has not stated publicly who will be starting for the green-and-white to try and lead them back to the postseason. Last season Jets fans had to watch in pain as their quarterback struggled to stay upright due to the lack of protection from the offensive line. Keeping this in mind, the Jets are looking to strengthen the weaknesses that kept them from being playoff contenders last fall.

Perhaps the biggest and most pressing question marks coming into the 2012 season are on the defensive side of the ball. The Jets bring back their consistent cornerback tandem of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie who continue to be shut down corners and perhaps the best pair in the league at the position. The remaining positions are all up for grabs though. Perhaps the most wide-open spot is at safety where a plethora of young bloods are now competing with each other to start Week 1.

Positions Battles: Safety

Front Runner(s): LaRon Landry (SS), Eric Smith (FS) -

Landry is one of those new faces acquired by the Jets in the summer. He is coming over from Washington where he played in the starting role since he drafted in 2007. Despite recent setbacks to his Achilles heel that saw him miss game action in the previous two seasons, Landry continues to be a great defender who uses his size and speed to track down the opposition and keep them from advancing the ball. His turnover totals may be low but he has recorded over 80 tackles three times in his five year career and could be the power hitter behind the coverage provided by Revis and Cromartie. - Smith is coming off a season where he took over the reins and became the starting man. Much in the way Landry is a physical player, Smith takes this mentality and brings in to the next level. He is remembered for two bone-crunching tackles that resulted in fines. The first delivered to Anquan Boldin, which left the receiver hospitalized. The second victim of Smith's hits was Wes Welker which led to a small fine. Receivers should be wary when breaking deep with Smith on the prowl; otherwise they may wake up in a hospital room not knowing how they got there.

In the Hunt: Yeremiah Bell (SS) -

Bell is the player most likely player to replace Landry if his Achilles isn't fully healed to start the season when needed. In fact, had it not been for Landry signing a deal worth more money, it wouldn't be all that surprising to see Bell start the season for Gang Green. After being released by the Miami Dolphins, Bell agreed to a one-year deal with New York. He led Miami in tackles over last four seasons, racking up over 100 of them in each one. While his turnover numbers may not be all that great either, Bell is a dynamic back that can change the face of the game with his grit and his determination.

Darkhorse(s): Josh Bush (FS), Antonio Allen (FS) -

Despite being rookies, both Bush and Allen are competing with Smith to take over the starting job at free safety for the upcoming year. Bush, fresh off his time at Wake Forest, started his senior year at safety after beginning his collegiate career as a corner. This former position has translated well for him. In his senior year, he recorded six interceptions and was honored 1st Team All-ACC and 3rd Team All-American. Likewise, Allen (South Carolina) is also a hybrid safety, having played two years in college as a linebacker before making the switch. His senior season saw him record 88 tackles and one sack for the Gamecocks. Should Smith need rest, do not be surprised to see the Jets use one of their rookie guys to fill in the role.


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