This is a big week for many around the NFL.
With two rounds of cuts coming over the next five days, things are at a critical juncture for those on the fringe of making the team. The Jets already trimmed their roster down to 75 --- the maximum allowed by 4 p.m. tomorrow -- but there's some difficult decisions that lie ahead.
They must get down to 53 by Saturday and there's not much wiggle room left.
"By now, you're roster, you know who is going to be on it," Rex Ryan said after practice here at The Hangar today. "Maybe there is one guy, maybe two guys that you play that last preseason game and they jump on your roster. We literally have five spots up for grabs."
One of those is the No. 3 QB and guess who may have already played his way onto the squad? That would be Kellen Clemens, the same guy who many (including myself) wrote off a while ago once it was known the Jets wanted to bring in Mark Brunell to serve as the No. 2.
Ryan said Clemens, who's completed 11 of 16 attempts for 116 yards this preseason and is battling Kevin O'Connell, is virtually on the roster.
"I would say he's got a pretty strong chance of making this team," Ryan said.
Clemens wasn't ready to light a victory cigar, though, especially knowing he's slated to earn $1.176 million while O'Connell's salary is $470,000 and is more in line with that of a No. 3.
"Well, it certainly isn’t over until it’s over," said Clemens, who said it took him about four or five days to get past the idea that he wasn't going to be allowed to compete for the primary backup gig. "I think that history has proven that. There’s always a surprise or two that can happen, but my approach has been pretty consistent.
"I’m going to go out and play. I didn’t get a chance to compete for the number two job. That’s one of the areas where I was a little frustrated earlier in camp, but you just have to put your head down and push through it.
"I’ve done that, and I think over the last couple weeks, I’ve played well. I’ve impressed the coaches and I think they’re hopefully looking to keep me around. I think there are certain issues. Obviously, I think I’m a little more expensive than Kevin is, but they have to weigh that. That’s out of my control, so it’ll have to play out."
Does Clemens thinks the Jets are just trying to protect his potential trade value?
"I don’t know all the games they play," he said. "I take Rex's word. He’s always said he’s a man of his word and he’s going to tell you how it is. When he says, 'Yeah, I think he has a pretty good chance,' I feel like I have a pretty good chance. He certainly didn’t say that I was a lock, but I have a pretty good chance, so I’ll take it for what it’s worth."
There's no denying Clemens has looked pretty good this preseason, which he admitted has been his most productive when I asked him where this ranks compared to the previous ones.
"It’s a little bit different because I haven’t had as much playing time," he said. "Last week, I didn’t play at all. Carolina, we had two or three series that were cut short by fumbles, but I think with how I have graded out with the coaches, I think it’s been my best preseason. Statistically, I haven’t blown anything away. My percentage is good, yards aren’t real high, I haven’t thrown a touchdown.
"But how I’ve graded out, it’s been my best preseason ever."
Donovan Warren is one of guy who's on that proverbial bubble, and it appears as if it's about to burst. Warren, a CB at Michigan who's being converted to a safety, suffered a concussion during the preseason opener against the Giants and hasn't been cleared to practice since.
That's never a good thing for a rookie who's battling for a spot and Warren is in the same position as LB Josh Mauga, who also missed a lot of time over these last few weeks with a head injury.
"A head injury in particular, no way are you going to rush that," Ryan said. "So if you can't evaluate, you can't evaluate him. It's unfortunate for those two young guys, but what's the likelihood of him making a team. You have no tape, so I would say slim to none. But maybe you put him on a practice squad and you see a little more of him that way."
The Clown needs to step his game up, too.
This is a big camp for David Clowney, as we detailed earlier this month, and he's going to have to solidify his role on special teams if he's going to have a spot on this roster.
"He's made some nice plays on teams, but we want to see that consistency," Ryan said. "He's had a couple real nice plays, fumble recoveries this preseason. I want to see him beat single press [coverage]. He needs to be able do that consistently. And so far he's still been a little inconsistent in his special teams play."
Fan favorite Danny Woodhead is also probably a little nervous. He's on the fringe as well, but his versatility -- he can play running back, wide receiver and is also contributing on special teams -- could make it awfully hard to let him walk.
"I think anytime that you can wear a lot of hats that helps you," Ryan said, "and the fact that he can go out on special teams. That's definitely a plus."