New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas should be pleased with how his running back room looked in the club's preseason outing Saturday, a 27-0 win in Carolina.
Even without Breece Hall, Gang Green running backs combined for 137 yards on 35 carries, keeping the offense in positive down and distance. RBs also added nine catches for 93 yards.
At worst, it provided Douglas a degree of leverage in any future Dalvin Cook discussions. At best, the backs showed that the group could get the job done without adding the workhorse free agent.
"At the same time, we feel like we're great players, too. We're just young in our careers. We're all chasing greatness in terms of team and personal goals. Nothing but respect for [Cook], but we're not really focused on that. We're just trying to get better and grind."
The Jets brought Cook in for a highly publicized visit more than two weeks ago, but the RB left without a deal, and talks haven't heated up since.
If Gang Green doesn't eventually ink Cook, Carter should play a sizable role in the offense alongside Aaron Rodgers this season. Hall is RB1 if healthy, but Carter would see significant snaps. After showing promise as a rookie, Carter didn't author the same upside in his second season, generating 402 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 114 carries in 16 games last season.
"As for Michael, he feels like he's damn near back," Jets head coach Robert Saleh said. "I know he was frustrated from his second season, but one thing you can count on with him is to make the first guy miss and just churn out those 4-, 5- and 6-yard runs.
"I thought he did a really nice job of making the first guy miss today and looking like who he is."
On Saturday, Carter averaged 4.8 yards on four carries and caught two passes for 34 yards, which wound up leading all Jets players for the game.
"Everything is different," Carter said. "This year I feel better than both of those years. I appreciate coach saying that. Everyone's got their own opinions, but I appreciate it. I feel good."
Fifth-round rookie Israel Abanikanda looked good Saturday, popping off a couple of chunk runs, including a long of 26 yards.
Sans a Cook signing, the Jets could use a committee approach with Hall, Carter, Zonovan Knight, Abanikanda and others carving out roles.
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