Valentine Holmes has had a little bit of hype around him based on his preseason for the New York Jets. A former Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks player out of the National Rugby League in Australia, Holmes left a potentially lucrative contract in April to pursue a dream only one player had previously achieved.
After being signed by the Jets as part of the international player program, Holmes very quickly put his head down and started to learn the game. A lot of camp has been around Holmes getting used to the numerous concepts that he will need to worry about.
Based upon the very limited action that he has seen, it looks as if Holmes will be used as not only a punt returner, but also as a running back and wide receiver. What we have seen so far, especially against the New York Giants in preseason, shows that Holmes has the ability to make it.
The sample size is small, but Holmes had 3 receptions for roughly 30 yards. All his receptions led to first downs, with Holmes shooting out the right side of scrimmage to get over the advantage line. His runs weren’t of large impact, but he made defenders miss.
For those who saw what Holmes could do in the NRL when he was playing in Australia, we all knew that he could make defenders clutch at fresh air anywhere on the field. This, however, was with a clean line of defenders.
Against Atlanta, Holmes had two runs for very little gain. You could attribute it to solid defense by Atlanta, but Holmes has to be patient and look for the holes in the defensive line. Against New Orleans, Holmes managed to see some special teams action as a returner. The returns weren’t anything special, with a punt return for 12 yards and a kick return for 21 yards. It does show though, that he has the versatility to play on special teams.
Standing at 5’9″ and popping up around 200 pounds, Holmes would do well to put on another five pounds if he can. It would seem that the Jets are willing to throw him into the mix on the practice squad as an eleventh player, thanks to the international player program. That would see Holmes ineligible for the 2019 season, but allows him to further immerse himself into the game and get to know the playbook better.
He is no Jarryd Hayne in terms of the hype or the impact that he is making on the organization. Where Hayne went straight onto the 53-man roster for the San Francisco 49ers, Holmes has the time to take a year on the practice squad and get accustomed to the game.
That will allow for Holmes to have a better rookie year, assuming that he can make the cut next year. It will also mean that he can learn off the likes of Le’Veon Bell and Bilal Powell, instead of being thrusted into the limelight.
Time will tell as to whether Holmes is even a smokey for the 53-man roster, with the Jets final preseason game this Thursday against Philadelphia. Not many are expecting Holmes to be on the field, however, should he have the chance to suit up, it leaves him with one final chance to push for that roster spot.
Photo Credit: AP/NY Post