On a rainy, cold night in the Meadowlands on Friday, a couple of backups might have warmed the hearts and homes of hardcore Jets fans everywhere. Second-string running back Leon Washington and second-string quarterback Kellen Clemens shone in the Jets’ 31-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons—the first preseason contest for both teams.
Washington, a second-year running back from Florida State, had two scintillating returns of 86 and 28 yards, respectively, and also had a 25-yard dash from scrimmage. His first return, which placed the Jets at Atlanta’s 8, set up starter Thomas Jones’ one-yard touchdown plunge.
Clemens—who had one pass attempt last year during his rookie season after being drafted out of the University of Oregon—was equally impressive, completing 16 of 22 passes for 174 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Sean Ryan was on the receiving end for two of those scores and finished with four catches.
While Chad Pennington has the starting quarterback job sewn up, Washington might actually see some time in the backfield this season, especially after Jones missed practice on Monday after he suffered a leg injury during Sunday’s practice. The Jets didn’t specify the nature or severity of the injury, but if Washington can supply repeat performances in subsequent preseason games, Jets fans might not care if Jones is on the sidelines or on the injured list or in Somalia.