Soon enough, NFL teams will be gearing up for their 2022 training camps. Come July, there can be plenty of roster moves made, and new storylines that emerge. However, for the New York Jets, a handful of goals are already in sight. Here is what to watch for during Jets training camp in a matter of weeks that will define a successful camp period…
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What to Watch for in 2022 New York Jets Training Camp
Player’s Health Remains Top Priority
Without a doubt, the New York Jets must stay healthy during training camp. Last off-season, Carl Lawson was lost before the regular season. Various players, such as Denzel Mims, limped through camp and were not properly conditioned entering the 2021 season. This time around, the Jets need to change that.
Gang Green only employs 19 of over 90 players with five or more years in the pros. For a young team, losing players early to injury is less than ideal. Especially if it is one of their prime drafts picks expected to emerge as a centerpiece for years to come. Ensuring all, whether rookie or veteran, are properly conditioned into game speed is vital to the team’s success in 2022.
Zach Wilson Gets Comfortable with New Targets
For many Jets fans who will attend training camp in over a month, they will be going to see Zach Wilson. The 2021 second overall draft pick’s up and down rookie campaign leaves much to be seen if he is truly a franchise quarterback. However, with the new faces General Manager Joe Douglas brought in around him, it is difficult to see how he won’t improve in year two.
On paper, the Jets now have their deepest tight ends unit in years. Free agent signings C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin provide two starting-caliber tight ends capable of both blocking and receiving. Meanwhile, rookie Jeremy Ruckert, who is an excellent blocker and developing as a pass-catcher, can step in for meaningful snaps early. Establishing a rhythm between Wilson and the new tight ends will be near the top of Offensive Coordinator Mike LaFleur’s to-do list.
Similarly, Wilson can have a field day tossing the pigskin to a revamped receiving corps. Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, and Denzel Mims are at full strength after injuries impacted them throughout last year. The Braxton Berrios show also returns, as the former New England Patriots draft pick and Wilson flashed their connection over the final weeks of 2022. And to top things off, the Jets will develop the Wilson-to-Wilson connection with the addition of wide receiver Garrett Wilson. The 10th overall pick will need to earn his reps in a high-upside position group, but it is hard not to be excited about the Jets new targets.
Now it falls onto Wilson to become familiar with his new targets.
Intense Battles in the Trenches
A lesser-noted storyline entering Jets training camp is the battle that will ensue between the offensive and defensive lines. Both units improved last season, though new additions are ready to elevate their unit’s play.
There will be a competition between George Fant and Mekhi Becton to protect Zach Wilson’s blindside. Meaning that both will be hungry with something to prove. Along the interior, the guard combination of Alijah Vera-Tucker and Pro Bowl signing Laken Tomlinson has the chance to be one of the best guard duos in the NFL by the end of 202. And center Connor McGovern proved to be a true rock on the interior during his 2021 bounce-back season.
If healthy, that is a potentially dominant offensive line Joe Douglas has built for Zach Wilson. Yet, the revamped defensive front will have the chance to test them early and often in camp. New York relies on heavy rotations along their front four, hence, the amazing depth the team has amassed.
Carl Lawson, Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, and Jermaine Johnson II is a scary young core four rushing the quarterback. Throw in Sheldon Rankins, Solomon Thomas, Bryce Huff, Jacob Martin, Micheal Clemons, and more – the Jets have endless options of fresh legs. From a passing game standpoint, the competition in the trenches will be a must-watch portion of training camp. Then again, if the Jets defense struggles against the run, expect Douglas to make a move.
Secondary Competitions Full of Depth
At safety, it is all up in the air aside from free agent signing Jordan Whitehead likely playing strong safety. A position that featured countless starters in 2021 due to injury, the Jets have a full-fledged competition to start at free safety. Veteran Lamarcus Joyner is the experience-oriented selection, although he is coming off of a season-ending elbow injury. There is also Ashtyn Davis, who has flashed all the athleticism in the world to pair with underwhelming tackling angles. Jason Pinnock, Elijah Riley, and Will Parks are among those who also have a shot at the job.
The Jets also will have a competition as to who their starting cornerbacks are. Free agent signing D.J. Reed is the obvious selection, coming off of a career year with the Seattle Seahawks in 2021. The same can be said about the Jets starters last season, Bryce Hall, Brandin Echols, and Michael Carter II. All three are young corners who established they can start week in and week out in this league. However, the wild card of 2022 fourth overall pick Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner has now entered the picture. The Cincinnati product has “shutdown corner” written all over him with his length and athleticism. At this point, each one has a legitimate case even before training camp starts. Therefore, making the starting cornerback competition the most intriguing ahead of Jets training camp.
Mentality to Reality: All Gas, No Brakes
From the moment the New York Jets hired Head Coach Robert Saleh, their battle cry has become “All Gas, No Brakes”. In 2022, that doesn’t change, as the Jets hope to play true, competitive football for the first time in years. Gang Green has been stuck in rebuild mode for a while, but the team’s culture has changed. With a youthful squad that is determined to turn things around, they have a shot at turning that mentality into a reality. And that starts with getting on the right track during training camp in a matter of weeks.
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