With the 2021 NFL season quickly approaching, New York Jets training camp continues to move along. It is a time where coaches can identify the talent on the team. For players, it gives them the opportunity to prove themselves as they look to make their NFL dreams come true. And one cannot forget how it is a chance for fans to see a sneak preview of their beloved team.
2021 New York Jets Training Camp Amongst the Fans: Day 2
So, for the second time this off-season, I decided to cover Jets training camp amongst the fans in the stands at 1 Jets Drive. In doing so, getting a true sense of how fans view the team entering 2021. That being said, here are the biggest takeaways from the team’s second public practice…
Defense Stepping Up
On Saturday, it was the Zach Wilson show. He made every throw he wanted and flashed his potential as the second overall pick. Today though, things were a little bit tougher.
Following a so-so defensive practice two days ago, the unit made plays constantly on Monday. Players like John Franklin-Myers and Ronald Blair got after Wilson, and Carl Lawson continues to give fans hope he will end their double-digit-sack drought.
Meanwhile, cornerbacks Blessuan Austin and Bryce Hall had a handful of solid plays. Austin even picked off Wilson in the back corner of 7-on-7’s, while Hall had his hands on most passes his way. At the very least, neither gave up anything easy.
For a team with such a young roster, every rep in Jets training camp matters. Especially when it is a team switching to a 4-3 scheme for the first time in a decade and a half. Nevertheless, if today was any hint at how they can perform on a weekly basis, then the future looks bright.
Long Day for the Offensive Line
On the flip end of the defense’s good day, the offensive line struggled – which is probably the last thing any Jets fan wants to read. Mekhi Becton, who has seen Lawson beat him quite a few times, and the rest of the Jets blockers struggled in pass protection all day. From the start, Wilson was under pressure often and forced to move around in the pocket. Things could have gone much better starting upfront.
Cameron Clark Put on a Show… of sorts
When looking at the right guard competition, 2020 fourth-round pick Cameron Clark is not out of it. The Charlotte product never took the field as a rookie but looks to establish himself at least as a contributor in 2021. Except, he is not making it any easier for himself.
Clark found himself getting reps with the second-team offense on Monday but made noise for something entirely different. At one point in practice, he briefly was throwing punches at defensive tackle Tanzel Smart, though none were landed, and the scuffle ended quickly. Clark needs to make a name for himself during training camp this season… just not in that way.
A Change at Linebacker
Outside of C.J. Mosley, the Jets presumed starters at linebacker are Jarrad Davis and Blake Cashman, in large part because of experience. Although Davis was a first-round pick and considered a bust by most Detroit Lions fans, he has the potential to turn things around with the Jets. However, one may begin to question if Cashman can do the same.
A fifth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Cashman has failed to stay healthy and make plays on the field. In fact, this past season he watched his role diminish to one that primarily involves special teams play. So, it does not exactly come as a surprise someone else was running with Mosley and Davis at linebacker with the first-team defense.
In the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jets selected Florida State safety Hamsah Nasirildeen, who will now play linebacker in the pros. Standing at 6’4” and 220-pounds, Nasirildeen can cover, play the box, and potentially develop into a solid starting linebacker. It was only one practice, but it will be interesting to see how the rest of this competition plays out because fellow rookie Jamien Sherwood has been making plays in camp too.
Tight End Competition
One thing that must be talked about is the usage of tight ends in training camp. Right off of the bat, the Jets have a handful of quality tight ends. Chris Herndon and Tyler Kroft are likely locks to make this team, constantly being utilized in 12 personnel formations. Herndon had two touchdowns during 7-on-7’s, and Kroft’s 6’6” frame makes him a viable red-zone threat too. Even Ryan Griffin, who has been quiet since a strong finish to 2019, has been making plays. A guy to look out for too is undrafted free agent Kenny Yeboah out of Ole Miss. Like Herndon, he found his way into the end zone twice today.
Final Takeaways from Day 2
As always, it was great to take a trip to 1 Jets Drive and watch some football. Head Coach Robert Saleh was monitoring everyone on the field today, walking around and watching his players perform. Again, training camp is to feel out the talent level of the team and determine what the organization is capable of. Nobody knows how many wins this team may have, but one thing for certain is this team has potential.
2021 New York Jets Training Camp Amongst the Fans: Day 1