The Jets huddled at the end of Thursday's practice. For many players it was the last time they would be on that field. But not as many in the past.
Everything is different in 2020 - as you know. That includes NFL rosters rules, which changed because of the global pandemic.
The Jets have to trim their roster from 80 to 53 by 4 p.m. on Saturday. In the past, they had 90 players in camp. The practice squad also has increased from 10 to 16 this year. More players can end up staying with the Jets than past years, but it still should be a wild weekend of cuts, claims and assembling a practice squad.
“It’s unusual because you’ve got so many guys that are going to be on the practice squad this year,” Adam Gase said. “We’ll have about five really tough decisions to make. The active roster, and on the practice squad and then kind of holding your breath to see if anybody gets claimed.”
Claiming players is different as well because they can’t join your team right away. They have to go through COVID-19 protocols first, which usually takes a few days.
That may give the Jets, and other teams, some reservations about claiming players in-season. But general manager Joe Douglas likely will be active this weekend, and pounce if a player he likes springs free.
“These guys are about ready to have a ton of guys available to them,” Gase said. “You’re looking at multiple days of sleepless nights here where these guys are just combing through all this stuff and watching film and calling position coaches. It’s always a crazy time.”
The Jets, who kick off Week 1 next Sunday at Buffalo, probably won’t have many surprises on their initial 53-man roster. They will have some interesting decisions, though, at some positions, starting with quarterback.
Joe Flacco will be Sam Darnold’s backup. But Flacco still is rehabbing from neck surgery, and weeks away from returning.
The Jets have to decide whether to keep him on reserve/PUP, which means he’s not eligible to return until Week 7. He’s expected back before then. The other option is to keep Flacco on the 53-man roster and de-activate him every week until he’s ready. But that would mean they have four quarterbacks on the roster.
David Fales and Mike White have been competing for the temporary No. 2 job. Fales’ knowledge and experience of Gase’s offense give him an edge. White could be re-signed to the practice squad if he's not claimed. The Jets aren't expected to waive fourth-round pick James Morgan and risk someone claiming him. So he should be on the initial 53.
Receiver is another interesting position, but more so because of all the injuries the Jets suffered at that spot in camp. Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman, Denzel Mims, Chris Hogan and Braxton Berrios will be on the initial 53.
Vyncint Smith could be as well, and then moved to IR with the designation to return. He needed core-muscle surgery and could miss at least the first few weeks of the season. With that designation, Smith could be put on the roster before Week 4.
Jeff Smith was having a good camp, and playing with the first team, but he’s been sidelined by a shoulder injury. Lawrence Cager hurt his knee after some good practices. They’re candidates for the practice squad along with Josh Malone.
Donte Moncrief the Jets the last week of camp. The veteran might be cut, and then re-signed if no one picks him up.