Rex Ryan always wants the win, but he’ll live with Monday night’s preseason loss if it helps identify the players that best fit his championship-driven vision.
The Jets (0-1) recovered from a 13-3 halftime deficit but couldn’t complete the rally, losing 20-16 at Houston. The Texans (1-0) rode running back Chris Ogbonnaya to victory, relying on his two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score at the two-minute warning.
While the final score is insignificant, the opportunities the game presented to young Jets players are not. After all, ’tis the season for NFL hopefuls to stand out, and a few Jets players did — some of them not in a good way.
TE Jeff Cumberland
Cumberland used his 4.45 40-yard speed (from his pro day) and 6-foot-4, 260-pound frame to rack up 77 yards on six catches. With more opportunities, the second-year pro could become a reliable target in double tight-end sets with starter Dustin Keller.
DT Kenrick Ellis
In life after Shaun Ellis, third-round rookie Kenrick Ellis was a presence on the defensive line, deflecting a Matt Leinart pass to set up linebacker Josh Mauga’s interception. Third-year receiver Patrick Turner made a two-yard TD grab four plays later.
RB Bilal Powell
In a crowded backfield, Powell stepped in for second-year back Joe McKnight following his head injury. The fourth-round rookie totaled 52 yards on 12 touches, showcasing his explosiveness and raising the stakes for McKnight’s roster spot.
LB Garret McIntyre
With four tackles and two sacks, the journeyman linebacker may have earned a few more reps this preseason. McIntyre had short stays in training camp with the Seahawks, Cardinals and Titans five years ago, but has only played in the Arena and Canadian leagues.
OL Vlad Ducasse
No one struggled more than Ducasse on the patchwork offensive line. The second-year lineman mishandled a blocking assignment, reportedly resulting in a broken right leg to backup center Robert Turner. Ducasse later whiffed on a block at his natural right-tackle spot, allowing a crushing sack and forced fumble on backup quarterback Greg McElroy.
WR Michael Campbell
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound undrafted rookie from Temple could have been a hero of David Clowney proportions had he reeled in McElroy’s 32-yard rainbow for the go-ahead score with 43 seconds remaining.
LB Jamaal Westerman
The Jets may need to temper their expectations for the third-year linebacker from Rutgers as a pass rusher after his one-tackle performance. Westerman’s awareness is also a concern after he bit on Houston’s oft-used play-action bootleg, which resulted in a second-quarter touchdown.
QB Greg McElroy
McElroy’s inaccuracy and suspect arm strength will hinder the seventh-round rookie’s bid for a backup role. His decision making was strangest on the final play, when McElroy scrambled 10 yards to the first-down marker before throwing into the end zone for an illegal forward pass.