Much of the Jets' offensive ineptitude during the first two weeks of the preseason -- during which they were the only NFL team without a touchdown -- could be excused away: Things will get better when the Jets game plan, or get a healthy wide receiver or two in the lineup, or play a game that counts.
But there was one thing in which the Jets just couldn't invest blind faith: The performance of beleaguered right tackle Wayne Hunter, who was benched last week after a brutal performance against the Giants in which he was responsible for three sacks of Mark Sanchez as well as a fourth that was negated by a penalty.
Austin Howard replaced Hunter in the starting lineup for the game against the Panthers Sunday night. Hunter was demoted to blocking tight end, the role he filled before becoming a starter in 2010.
"The more I thought about it, I need to see Austin with this group and going against Carolina's starters," coach Rex Ryan told reporters last week. "And the fact, I want Wayne in this role. It's a very valuable role that we have."
Said Hunter: "I feel more comfortable, just because I've had so much success being a Jumbo guy."
BATTLE OF THE WEEK
The duel for the Jets' kicker position between Nick Folk and Josh Brown may not be decided until the preseason finale against the Eagles. Special teams coach Mike Westhoff told the Newark Star-Ledger the Folk-Brown kicker battle was the closest he's seen in his 30 years in the NFL. According to the Star-Ledger, Folk fared better in practice, hitting 68 of 73 attempts during open practices while Brown was 59-of-72, but Brown had two of the Jets' three field goals in their first two preseason games and also booted two touchbacks. "I can't imagine that there's a kicker in another NFL team that's had a better camp than these two guys are having," Westhoff told the Star-Ledger.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Linebacker Aaron Maybin continues to impress the coaching staff. Maybin provided one of the few highlights of the second exhibition game against the Giants by partially blocking a Steve Weatherford punt. While Maybin is expected to see starter-type reps on defense after leading the Jets with six sacks in limited time last season, his athleticism and fluidity will also earn him time as a flanker on special teams. "He can run like heck," special teams coach Mike Westhoff told Metro newspaper. "He's a strong explosive guy, an interesting player. We're going to see what we can do with him."
"I know the work here isn't done for me," Maybin said. "I can't stop getting better."
Defensive end Quinton Coples, a first-round pick, had two sacks and eight tackles in the first two preseason games. ... Wide receiver Stephen Hill, a second-round pick, continued to build chemistry with Tim Tebow by catching a touchdown pass from the backup quarterback during last Thursday's practice. He also caught a Hail Mary pass for a touchdown during Friday's practice. ... Safety Josh Bush, a sixth-round pick, was expected to get plenty of time in Sunday's game against the Eagles with veteran Yeremiah Bell sitting out with a minor knee injury. Wide receiver Jordan White, a seventh-round pick, was also in line for extra reps against the Eagles as Chaz Schilens continued battling a high ankle sprain.
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