Five Jets to watch in Friday's matchup vs. Atlanta Falcons

BY foxsports • August 21, 2015

The New York Jets had an awful showing in their first preseason game against the Detroit Lions, losing 23-3 at Ford Field. No one was particularly impressive on either side of the ball, with the offense tallying just six first downs.

The Jets will look to clean up their game against the Atlanta Falcons on Friday night, as Ryan Fitzpatrick expects to see more time than last week. They'll be without Muhammad Wilkerson, but a bevy of playmakers on defense will look to hold the Falcons offense in check.

Here are five players to watch on Friday night.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB

Presumed starter Ryan Fitzpatrick only saw the field for one series last week, but this week should be much different. Matt Flynn still isn't healthy, leaving just Fitzpatrick and Petty as the likely candidates to play Friday night. Fitzpatrick will probably play at least one quarter, if not the entire first half, as he tries to get on the same page as his receivers before the regular season starts. Whether he plays great or poorly, Fitzpatrick will be the starter come Week 1. This week should give fans and the coaching staff a good look at what to expect in the first four regular season games without Geno Smith.

Lorenzo Mauldin, OLB

Third-round pick Lorenzo Mauldin has all the physical ability to be an impactful pass rusher, he just needs to reel it in a bit. Head coach Todd Bowles likes what he's seen from the rookie thus far, but believes he needs to play more under control. Calvin Pace is the starter at outside linebacker right now, but Mauldin is his backup and can be an effective situational pass rusher. Mauldin will get a chance to showcase his pass rushing ability on Friday night against the Falcons. Look for Mauldin to make an impact and get to the quarterback at least once.

Leonard Williams, DE

With Muhammad Wilkerson still sidelined, first-round pick Leonard Williams will likely get the start at defensive end. He figures to be a big part of the Jets' defense this season, given the fact that Sheldon Richardson will miss the first four games, if not more. The Falcons' offensive line may not have to deal with Wilkerson, but Williams will be sure to give them fits all game long. The Jets' defensive line is one of the best in the league, so long as Williams lives up to his status as a top-10 pick. 

Jeremy Kerley, WR

Veteran wide receiver Jeremy Kerley is on the verge of losing his starting spot as the team's primary slot receiver. Kerley has already said it's a different situation than he's used to, but he's not out of the running just yet. However, if he hopes to hold onto his starting job, he'll need to do better than he did last week. He was targeted just twice against the Lions and didn't record a catch. Rookie Devin Smith is still injured, giving Kerley more time on the field. Next to Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall, Kerley should see one-on-one matchups with plenty of opportunities to make plays.

Zac Stacy, RB

The Jets have their No. 1 running back in Chris Ivory, but beyond that, the order on the depth chart seems to be fluid. Bilal Powell is currenty second, ahead of Zac Stacy and the injured Stevan Ridley. With that said, if there's a time for Stacy to stand out, it's now. He hasn't stood out much in practice since being traded to the Jets from the Rams, but with three preseason games left, he has a chance to get back to his rookie form. He has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield as well as run between the tackles, but he needs to make a bigger impact than he has. Last week he had just nine yards on three carries. 

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