Jets 2011 fifth-round pick Jeremy Kerley’s rookie season was promising enough that he made Derrick Mason expendable early in the year and earned full-time punt returner duties. On offense, Kerley caught 29 passes for 314 yards and a touchdown, operating as New York’s primary slot receiver.
But Kerley had a rocky offseason, failing to stand out during OTAs and minicamps, and he quickly went down with a hamstring injury as training camp opened. Jets coach Rex Ryan isn’t thrilled.
“Jeremy needs to step it up,” Ryan said Saturday, per the New York Daily News. “Quite honestly, I was a little disappointed in him in the offseason.”
Kerley is expected to miss “about a week” of camp. The Jets are implementing a new offense under first-year coordinator Tony Sparano, and Ryan made it clear that Kerley needs to be on the field, or he’ll risk losing his slot receiver job.
“He’s got to pick up this new system,” said Ryan. “You got to put the time in.”
If Kerley continues to come up short, the Daily News suggests that the Jets would turn to Santonio Holmes in the slot, with Chaz Schilens bookending rookie Stephen Hill outside.
Kerley’s roster spot seems secure at the moment, but that could change if his injury and/or poor performance lingers.