Around the NFL
Keller looking better and better
Posted Jun. 12 at 04:07 AM
It's looking a lot like rookie tight end Dustin Keller will be the Jets' leading receiver at the position this year. There are two veterans in front of him, last year's starter Chris Baker and free-agent signee Bubba Franks, but neither should be a significant obstacle.
Baker looks like he's on the fast road out of town. Unhappy with his contract, he blew off the team's voluntary workouts last month. He showed up for the team's mandatory minicamp, but was quickly sidelined after "tweaking something" on the second day. Now the team has fired the latest shot in the battle, fining Baker for missing a treatment session. Baker's agent called the fine petty, and compared the team's actions to last year's camp showdown with guard Pete Kendall, who also griped about his contract and was traded to Washington before the start of the season. Like that relationship, this is one which seems unlikely to be repaired.
Franks had some good years in Green Bay, but the most recent one was in 2004. He's an old 30 without much ability to get separation or make tough catches in traffic. Maybe he'll have some value around the goal line -- his bread-and-butter for several years in Green Bay -- but even those days might be behind him. In 34 games the last three seasons, Franks caught only 4 TDs. His primary value at this point is as a blocker.
That leaves Keller, who the team traded up to take at the end of the first round. Keller was a dangerous receiver at Purdue, catching 68 passes for 881 yards and 7 TDs last season. That should be his primary role with the Jets, and unless he really struggles in the preseason, things are shaking out like he could be a fairly productive rookie, certainly tops among rookie tight ends, with only Seattle's John Carlson likely to have a larger role.
The New York Daily News' reporting of the most recent developments with Baker can be found here.
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