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Michael Carter Should Get More Playing Time After 'Electric' Performance

As quarterback Zach Wilson tries to incorporate a "boring" brand of football into his repertoire, the rookie is poised to lean on his checkdowns more often going forward.

Wilson will be looking to establish the running game and play it smart when wideouts are covered down the field, working in the flat with his backs open in space. 

It just so happens that the Jets have another rookie standing next to Wilson in the backfield, a player that flashed some serious potential in Sunday's loss to the Patriots and could be in line for an expanded roll going forward. 

Fourth-round pick Michael Carter took full advantage of an increase in playing time this week, totaling 59 rushing yards on 11 touches against New England's defense. Factor in 29 receiving yards on two catches and the North Carolina product was approaching 100 yards from scrimmage. 

That comes after Carter had just six rushing yards and 14 receiving yards in his debut during a loss against the Panthers in Week 1.

"Michael Carter was running his tail off yesterday," head coach Robert Saleh said Monday. "This system has always been about giving it to the hot hand and letting it roll. ... All three backs I thought showed up to play, but hats off to Michael. He was electric."

As Saleh mentioned, New York was riding Carter's coattails. After playing in only 16 snaps in Gang Green's opener, Carter lined up on offense for 33 snaps the following week, tied with Ty Johnson for the most among the Jets' running backs. Veteran Tevin Coleman saw a huge decline in his usage, only playing in seven snaps on Sunday. 

That jump is undoubtedly because Carter wasted no time making an impact when his number was called. The back scampered for 13 yards on his very first touch in the first quarter.

Carter proceeded to battle for yards each time he had an opportunity up until halftime, proving he wasn't easy to bring down with the football in his hands.

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Then, at the very end of the third quarter, Carter flashed more playmaking ability. On a short out route to Wilson's right, Carter bounced toward the sideline, making two Patriots defenders miss before stepping out of bounds. 

As Carter hauled in the pass from Wilson, he had five yards of separation from the nearest defender. That space allowed the rookie to go to work, making something happen on an easy completion.

Going forward, as Carter continues to build momentum running the football, it behooves Wilson to keep the running back in mind when dropping back to pass. 

Just like Mac Jones was able to do with his running backs through the air—finding James White and Damien Harris routinely—Wilson can still gain yardage and keep moving the football when his top targets at wide receiver aren't available down the field. Same goes for Carolina's Sam Darnold and Christian McCaffrey, a dynamic duo that was tough to stop in Week 1.

Carter's presence out of the backfield might even open up big plays through the air as well, setting up play-action passes and giving opposing defenses more threats to worry about. 

Again, this offense is rooted in a style that encourages a rushing game by committee. It's possible Coleman or Ty Johnson will roar out of the gates next week, leaving Carter on the sidelines. 

But the youngster's talent was on full display in Week 2. It feels like choosing not to utilize his spark on offense would be a huge mistake, especially with a rookie quarterback that's been trying to do too much thus far. 

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