While much of the attention of New York Jets training camp revolves around which passer will start under center, one player has managed to emerge from the pack and build a stellar performance on the field. That player is running back, Bilal Powell, who in his third year with Gang Green is the heavy favorite to secure Gang Green's third down running back job.
One of the reasons that Powell has impressed so far is the situation of the current Jets backfield. Joe McKnight is a volatile player who has a habit of disappearing on downs and hasn't shown that he can be an every down back. Meanwhile, Chris Ivory is dealing with hamstring issues and Mike Goodson has yet to show up to training camp at all due to what the Jets front offices are calling ‘personal reasons'. Goodson was arrested this past May for drug and weapons chargers and is in the pre-indictment stage of his case.
"It's camp, so competition is everywhere," said Powell. "I think the higher the competition the better we get as individuals and when we pool that together as a team it can take us a long way."
Powell is coming off his most productive season as an NFL player. Amidst the woes of the Jets offense in 2012, Powell was able to earn a starting spot in a losing effort against the San Francisco 49ers. He finished last season with 437 yards on 110 carries, good for four yards per carry. He added four rushing touchdowns to his yard total and never lost control of the football. His best rushing game came against the Jacksonville Jaguars where Powell ran for 78 yards and one score.
Powell proved he could be a dual threat on the offense as well as he totaled 140 yards receiving and averaged about eight yards every time he caught the ball. The Florida native refuses to rest on his laurels and looks to improve his performance and ability to aid the team this year.
"I still have a lot more room to improve," admitted Powell. "I'm never content with where I'm at right now. I want to get better every day."
Powell has impressed in training camp so far mainly due to his ability to be a great all around player. He is lauded for his pass protection as well as his ability to run in between the tackles and on the outside. During the Jets scrimmage game this past Saturday, Powell was the main force behind the offense that saw both Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith have up-and-down performances.
""Right now, he's one of the most dependable," running backs coach Anthony Lynn said. "You could look at different skill sets in the backfield and no one would necessarily say that his skill set was as good as some of the others, but you look at a guy that shows up every day and puts his hard hat on and does what he's supposed to do, it's Bilal Powell. You win championships with guys like that."