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 the players, it gives them an 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 3
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…
New Quarterback is a Familiar Face
When arriving at 1 Jets Drive on Wednesday, many were expecting to watch Zach Wilson, Mike White, and James Morgan. Well, that was exactly what they got, in addition to seeing a familiar face from years ago. Minutes into camp, veteran quarterback Josh Johnson was seen on the field, as noted below.
And the Jets appear to have signed QB Josh Johnson (#9), who joins Zach Wilson, James Morgan, and Mike White pic.twitter.com/j3X12WFw3S
— Mason H. Smoller (@Smollerreport) August 4, 2021
Shortly after, news broke that the Jets have in fact signed Johnson, after previously bringing him in for a workout a week prior. Johnson, 35, will compete against White and Morgan for the backup quarterback spot. Last season, Johnson spent time as a member of the San Francisco 49ers practice squad and will now enter his second stint with Gang Green. His first came during the 2015 off-season, around the same time Zach Wilson turned 16-years-old.
Tight End to Thrive in Red Zone
One of the big mysteries about the Jets 2021 team will be the tight ends. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur comes from the 49ers, who employ George Kittle, to a questionable Jets group. Players like Chris Herndon, Tyler Kroft, and Ryan Griffin have all flashed talent, but never have pieced it altogether.
Well, one takeaway from training camp is the tight ends are going to be involved – a lot. Right away, one will notice the use of 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends). Both Herndon and Kroft have lined up time and time again with each other during camp. Additionally, Trevon Wesco, who is playing fullback, has looked good as an underneath passing option.
Towards the end of practice, the Jets ran some 7-on-7’s in the red zone, where the tight ends thrived. Not only did Wilson throw for six touchdowns, but four went to tight ends – Wesco, Griffin, Kroft, and Herndon. Not to mention, undrafted free agent Kenny Yeboah stood out in the same drill on Monday. Given the size advantage of the tight ends, expect them to be a key factor in the Jets red zone offense this year.
Injuries Up Front
Now, it was already known that offensive tackle George Fant was out. Over a week ago he was placed on the team’s Reserve/COVID-19 list and has not practiced since. However, upon his return, he is expected to compete against Morgan Moses for the starting right tackle job.
Left guard Alijah Vera-Tucker among injured players working on the side field. No word on any injury, but it would explain why he wasn’t a part of offensive walk through earlier…
— LWOS New York Jets (@LWOS_NYJets) August 4, 2021
On Wednesday, Last Word on Sports noted (above) how left guard Alijah Vera-Tucker was on the side field with the injured players. It was later said by Head Coach Robert Saleh that the rookie is day-to-day with a strained right pectoral muscle. In his place was Dan Feeney, with Alex Lewis (the team’s 2020 starting left guard) also getting reps.
After being rushed to the hospital from practice on Tuesday, second-year offensive lineman Cameron Clark has been diagnosed with a spinal cord contusion. While he is expected to make a full recovery, it is unknown as to when he will return to the field.
Defensive Line Continues to Impress
Let’s take a second to talk about the team’s most impressive unit in training camp – the defensive line. Carl Lawson is an absolute beast. Folorunso Fatukasi does not let running backs past him. And Sheldon Rankins moves the line.
But nobody (except for Lawson) has been as impressive as John Franklin-Myers. Coming off a breakout season in a situational role, he is primed to take a major step forward under Saleh. In practice, he is deflecting passes, getting after the quarterback, and doing everything a playmaker would in a real game situation. Should Franklin-Myers win the job outright, he and Lawson would form a great pass-rushing duo out of the gate.
Late-Round Rookies Emerging
During the draft, the Jets added serious depth at linebacker and cornerback in the later rounds. At linebacker, the Jets took Auburn’s Jamien Sherwood and Florida State’s Hamsah Nasirildeen, who both will transition from safety. At cornerback, New York selected Michael Carter II from Duke, Pittsburgh’s Jason Pinnock, and Kentucky’s Brandin Echols. In other words, the Jets wanted to inject even more youth into their already young defense.
Of these five, two already have seen reps with the first-team defense. Nasirildeen has run with the unit for a couple of days now, playing alongside C.J. Mosley and Jarrad Davis. Before Nasirildeen, Blake Cashman was the third linebacker. Similarly, Wednesday was the first time anyone not named Blessuan Austin or Bryce Hall was on the outside. Echols found himself taking reps from Hall throughout the day, as Hall ran with the second unit. Obviously, players rotate often during training camp. Yet it is certainly worth noting that these two have already made a name for themselves.
Hype Man of the Day: Michael Carter
— New York Jets (@nyjets) August 4, 2021
Each day of training camp, a player has run over to the fans in the stands to get them all hyped before practice begins. The first was Alijah Vera-Tucker on Saturday, who threw his helmet to the ground in the process. Then came Elijah Moore, who egged the cheering fans on. Today, it was running back Michael Carter called for fans to get loud. It has become an exciting tradition and one that seems to be amongst the rookies.
Final Takeaways from Jets Training Camp Day 3
Today’s practice was easily the most storied one so far. Josh Johnson joined the team, tight ends and defensive linemen were making plays, and there was plenty of positional movement. Should be interesting to see what this team has in store for the Green and White game Saturday, August 7th.