TRAINING CAMP GOALS
1. Build chemistry.The Jets were a fractured bunch last season, with players sniping at one another and few players willing to step up and take on a leadership role. Coach Rex Ryan has tried to address the Jets' internal issues by acting in a more hands-on fashion behind the scenes and refusing to name captains, but the few weeks in upstate New York will be vital to cultivating relationships and creating a better atmosphere than last season.
It's a good sign for the Jets that Bart Scott, a naturally charismatic figure who was unhappy throughout last season, seems reborn. It's not a good sign that Santonio Holmes, the ringleader of last season's circus, is still on the team while LaDainian Tomlinson, the closest thing the Jets had to a wise old sage, has retired. <>p
2. Stay healthy.
The Jets have plenty of talent but are generally thin beyond their first-teamers. In particular, there is little depth and experience behind the starters at running back, wide receiver and tight end on offense and in the defensive secondary. The good news is there's plenty of opportunity for young players to step up and grab backup roles, injuries to the starters will have the Jets scrambling at the most inopportune time of the year. Any hope the Jets have of returning to the AFC's elite rests on the likes of Holmes, Shonn Greene, Dustin Keller, Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie remaining healthy and productive.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Rookie defensive end Quinton Coples has undeniable talent, but his effort and motor were questioned by some during his final two seasons at North Carolina. Such critiques earned him comparisons to Vernon Gholston, a first-round pick in 2008 who began looking like a bust almost immediately upon reporting to training camp that summer.
Coples impressed the Jets during OTAs and doesn't look anything like a Gholston-sized bust thus far; indeed, it is likely he'll be an immediate starter for a team that desperately needs a pass-rushing presence. Still, a good first impression on the practice field in July and August is vital for Coples as well as for the publicity-conscious Jets.
ON THE HOT SEAT
Quarterback Mark Sanchez. Of course. Who else would it be? The Jets have declared Sanchez is their clear-cut starting quarterback, but the acquisition of Tim Tebow means every single training camp pass will be chronicled, parsed and analyzed. And the scrutiny will only get worse once the exhibition games start.
Sanchez has done plenty of good things in his three years in the NFL, including leading the Jets to two AFC Championship Games and directing nine fourth-quarter comebacks in 47 regular season starts, but he took a clear step backward last season and has yet to prove he's an upper-echelon quarterback.
Tebow probably isn't an elite signal-caller, either, but after leading the Broncos on an unlikely playoff run and becoming one of the league's most popular players last season, he has an undeniable "it" factor that Sanchez has yet to display. Unlike most starting quarterbacks, Sanchez cannot afford a slow start this summer.