The New York Jets 2022 preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles will be remembered less for the 24-21 victory and more for the knee injury sustained by quarterback Zach Wilson. Fortunately, Wilson seems to have avoided serious injury and there was a lot that happened which could influence the make up of the final 53-man roster in a few weeks.

Second- and third-string players received the bulk of playing time. They largely held their own after the starting defense allowed two touchdowns and the No. 1 offense produced three points on an Eddy Pineiro field goal. Several players at the top of the depth chart didn’t play, including left tackle George Fant, defensive end Carl Lawson, linebacker C.J. Mosley and safety Lamarcus Joyner.

That allowed those who are battling for roster spots the opportunity to make a positive impression.

Let’s take a look at exactly that.

Jets Who Impressed In Preseason Opener

La’Mical Perine – RB

Perine had a strong game against the Eagles. The 24-year-old led the Jets with 51 yards on 10 carries, including a pair of 14-yard runs.

Most impressive was how he hit the holes quickly and provided the Jets a downhill threat. When Perine runs with power, he’s a load to bring down.

The issue for Perine is that since he was selected in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. The Jets picked Michael Carter in the fourth round last year and Breece Hall in the second round this year. They also added veteran running back Tevin Coleman as a free agent. Throw Ty Johnson (who missed the preseason opener with a hamstring injury) into the mix and it’s difficult to see a path for Perine to land a spot on the 53-man roster.

He played in only four games and had eight carries for 31 yards last season. As a rookie, under a different coaching staff, Perine had 232 yards and two touchdowns on 64 carries.

To his credit, Perine made a positive statement Friday.

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Side note, undrafted free agent running back Zonovan Knight scored a touchdown by keeping his legs churning on a short run through traffic. And he set up the winning drive with a 52-yard kickoff return. Knight is a playmaker who’s had an excellent camp and could wind up on the practice squad.

Tanzel Smart – DT

The Jets are very deep on the defensive line so it’s going to be an uphill battle for Smart to land a spot on their roster. But that didn’t stop the 26-year-old from making a positive impression against the Eagles.

Smart had two sacks, including a 16-yard loss when he chased down Eagles quarterback Reid Sinnett in the third quarter. He also tied for second on the Jets with six tackles.

Smart played 31 games for the Los Angeles Rams from 2017-19 and three for the Jets in 2020. He was on New York’s practice squad last season and could be headed there again because it’s hard to imagine him making enough of a surge up the depth chart to land a roster spot.

Side note, Jabari Zuniga had himself a nice game with a sack and six tackles. The third-round pick in the 2020 draft is an intriguing edge rusher who’s fighting for a roster spot, too.

Lawrence Cager – TE

A former wide receiver, Cager switched positions this season and had drawn raves throughout OTAs and minicamp. He’s been a bit quieter in training camp, but Cager looked solid Friday. Playing behind Tyler Conklin, C.J. Uzomah, Jeremy Ruckert and likely Trevon Wesco on the depth chart, Cager caught both passes thrown his way, including a big 29-yard gain in the fourth quarter. He averaged 20 yards per reception.

Cager is an intriguing athlete but it’s hard to figure out where his opportunity is on this roster. Had this been any other recent season when the tight end position was a black hole, Cager would have had a much better chance to land a roster spot and perhaps significant playing time. This season is not that season.