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New York Jets Training Camp: 5 Players To Watch Closely

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5 New York Jets To Watch Closely During Training Camp

Richard Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

As training camp goes on, the New York Jets continue to search for answers on both sides of the ball. With injury concerns and a shortage of talent, Rex Ryan’s job hasn’t been easy. There’s been a brewing quarterback controversy at the center of everyone’s focus and too much uncertainty to declare who gets to start and who doesn’t. But though fans’ expectations for the Jets are low, Ryan and his team appear confident in their ability to win games.

Could they end up as a playoff team?

The Jets are hoping for a fresh start in 2013 with a number of new coaching staff members and a roster that could feature several rookies as starters. Training camp is the first opportunity to see what’s in store for the upcoming season, and thus far there have been both positives and negatives. Ryan and his staff will look to build on the positives and limit the negative as preseason quickly approaches.

But aside from quarterback, there are still multiple position battles that are yet to be resolved. The green and white scrimmage on Saturday night certainly helped to determine the outcome of some of them, but there’s more work to be done. The Jets desperately need a few unsung heroes to emerge from camp and solidify the depth chart.

For now, five key guys stand out among the rest as players to keep a close eye on over the next few days. The individual successes and failures of these players could significantly affect the outcome of the entire Jets' season.

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Dee Milliner

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For a guy who's been recovering from shoulder surgery, Milliner is climbing the ranks very quickly. The Jets got their first chance to see him on the football field last Wednesday and they liked what they saw. They believe he has the size and speed to be an elite cornerback, and they listed him as a starter in the first official depth chart.

If he starts opposite Antonio Cromartie this year, Milliner is going to see a lot of throws come his way. His progress throughout training camp could play a big part in just how good the Jets' secondary can be in 2013. If his shoulder holds up and he adjusts quickly, they should be a pretty tough team to throw against despite losing Darelle Revis.

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Chris Ivory

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The stage is set for Ivory to have a big year, but he's yet to participate in team drills. He's been sidelined by a hamstring injury for the last week and a half, and the Jets are dying to see what he can do. Ivory, who was once touted as the best third-string running back in football, is described as a quicker and more elusive version of Shonn Greene. All signs point to a healthy Ivory being extremely effective this year, but the key will be staying healthy. Keep an eye on Ivory as training camp progresses.

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Bilal Powell

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Earlier this offseason, Powell was expected to be the third option in the Jets' backfield. But with Ivory injured and Mike Goodson still an absentee, he's taken over the spotlight. Powell has received high praise from coaches and teammates over the last week, all of whom see him as a legitimate candidate to carry the running workload. He stood out in the green and white scrimmage on Saturday with his blocking and pass-catching abilities.

With the backfield looking increasingly thin, Powell's emergence comes at the perfect time for the Jets. If he's really as underrated as his teammates think, this could be the year for him to take a big step forward.

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Santonio Holmes

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The Jets are absolutely desperate for Holmes to return from Lisfranc surgery as one of the only veteran pass catchers on the team. Unfortunately, his status for 2013 is still completely up in the air. He hasn't been ruled out for Week 1, but reports say that he also might not play at all this year. The Jets remain optimistic about his recovery, though he hasn't stepped foot on the practice field.

It will be interesting to see whether or not Holmes ends up getting any training camp reps. He's a huge piece of the Jets' offense, which is currently in need of receiving talent. While the quarterback competition heats up at camp, the Jets are hoping that whoever starts will have Holmes to throw to this year.

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Geno Smith

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A quarterback controversy began when the Jets drafted Smith in April, but it's really been heating up at training camp. In the battle with Mark Sanchez, it's clear that Smith has the better arm and more mobility, making him the more exciting option. But at this point, it's unclear as to whether or not he can make smart enough decisions as a rookie.

The Jets already know what they can get out of Sanchez, so the competition really comes down to how quickly Smith can develop. He's gotten high praise from teammates such as Braylon Edwards, and he seems confident in his ability to lead the offense. The rest of training camp and the preseason will most likely determine whether or not Smith wins the job. But until that point, every play he makes will be scrutinized on a daily basis.