When you go to a Broadway show, you'll sometimes find a little card tucked inside the Playbill telling you that the role of Professor Snugglebottom will be played by some actor you've never heard of before.
The Jets didn't include such a card with their first official depth chart of the preseason, but they probably should have. It would have read "The role of Brad Smith will be performed by Jeremy Kerley this season."
Kerley, a fifth-round pick out of TCU, has been a pretty big hit in his first professional training camp. He's made some plays in the passing game, but his biggest impact has been on special teams where he's been made the heir apparent to Smith as a return man.
Kerley is listed at both kick and punt returner on that initial depth chart, which might say as much about the competition as it does about the rookie himself. Then again, impressing special teams guru Mike Westhoff isn't all that easy so maybe Kerley does have something extra going for him early in his Jets career.
The Jets really seem to think so because they aren't planning to ditch the Wildcat now that converted college quarterback Smith is no longer around to take the snaps. The team plans to run it this year and Rex Ryan listed Kerley, who ran it in college, alongside LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight as a potential guy to run it.
That's a pretty risky approach to take with something that can blow up and hurt your team like the Wildcat. It usually makes sense to let your players dictate what kinds of exotic plays and formations get installed in the playbook instead of potentially trying to fit square pegs into round holes.
The Jets could just be trying to make sure teams spend time practicing against the Wildcat without any real plans to use it themselves, but given all the buzz about Kerley that seems unlikely. The team obviously wants to put the ball in the rookie's hands so, just as they did with Smith, they'll be creative about finding ways to do it.
It would be silly to expect Kerley to walk onto the field on September 11th and have the same kind of impact on the game that Smith had in the last two seasons. This is the same front office that saw a diamond in the rough with Smith, though, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him filling a similar role on the team once the season gets underway.
If he does, it won't be long before he stops being talked about as the next Brad Smith. He'll just be the first Jeremy Kerley.