Run-Blockers, Johnson and Powell Take The Next Step During Win Over Bengals

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Is the idea to revamp “ground and pound” or for the Jets to strive for balance on offense?

We will find out soon enough.

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The early stages of Saturday’s preseason game at Cincinnati didn’t look too good, from a Jets perspective. The highly touted defense got carved up for touchdowns on successive drives and the offense sputtered a bit.

But as the game went on the offense improved and not just against second- and third-teamers. The Bengals kept many members of their starting defense in for a while and the Jets’ offensive line responded in impressive fashion in the eventual 25-17 victory.

Playing without Eric Decker due to a quad injury, the Jets still tried to throw and had some success, but the highlight of the night from a team perspective was the play of the run-blockers and running backs Chris Johnson and Bilal Powell.

The Jets went for 169 yards on 34 carries. Johnson gained 63 on 10 and Powell added another 41 on four. Daryl Richardson, who is fighting to be the fourth running back on the roster, added 23 yards on seven carries.

Chris Ivory was held out of the game due to a rib injury, but it’s not believed to be serious.

“I do know that we have some explosion back there,” quarterback Geno Smith told the Daily News after the game. “With the addition of Chris (Johnson), with having Chris Ivory as well, with having Bilal Powell back … I think we have a ton of ability at that spot and it’s going to help us out tremendously.”

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Smith, who added 20 yards and a touchdown on the ground, said he would like to see the Jets continue what they started Saturday night. If Johnson, Ivory and Powell get huge holes to run through it will force defenses to key on the run, setting the stage for Smith to perhaps transform from inconsistent rookie into someone the Jets can trust.

“Hopefully we’ll get some safeties down in the box and we’ll have more opportunities to have some one-on-one shots down the field and we can capitalize on those, if we execute those the right way,” Smith said. “So having those guys is going to help us out a bunch, and we expect those guys to do well every single week.”

Johnson, who rushed for at least 1,000 yards in every season of his six-year career, including 2,006 yards in 2009, prior to signing a two-year deal with the Jets during the offseason, figures to eventually get the bulk of the carries. Earlier in camp running backs coach Anthony Lynn suggested Ivory, in addition to his work between the 20s, would be the Jets’ goal-line back.

Coming off an unsung 2013 season, Powell may prove to be a lot more than simply a change-of-pace back.

Expect all three to get extensive work on Friday against the Giants at MetLife Stadium.

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