On Saturday, July 30th, New York Jets fans flocked to 1 Jets Drive, Florham Park, New Jersey for the first public day of the team’s 2022 training camp. After one of the most promising off-seasons the franchise has had in years, there is plenty of excitement around Gang Green. So, how did the team do in the first sneak peek of what’s to come? Let’s review the latest from today’s practice.
2022 New York Jets Training Camp Amongst the Fans: Day 1
Guardian Caps, No Pads
Around the NFL, there are two things worth noting about the equipment players are wearing during training camp. First – there are no pads. A typical practice early in Jets training camp, teams must ramp up the conditioning of players before full pads are introduced. It is to minimize early injury, as the New York Jets will only begin wearing pads during practice on Monday, August 1st.
Now, Guardian Caps are not something new. They have been around the NFL for years, as they are placed upon the helmet to provide a soft cushion that lessens the severity of a blunt hit to the head. Considering the concussions issues around the league, requiring their widespread use is a logical move by decision-makers in the NFL. However, Head Coach Robert Saleh brings up an interesting point regarding the delayed introduction of typical head-to-head collision power. But as Saleh notes, only time will tell whether the Guardian Caps will prove to be beneficial, or detrimental.
Rookies Stealing the Show
Last off-season saw the return of fans to 1 Jets Drive for training camp for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. With it came a new rookie tradition – hyping up the fans as practice gets underway. A tradition began by Michael Carter and Alijah Vera-Tucker last year, Max Mitchell was the first rookie tabbed for 2022. From there, Mitchell kicked off what was a good showing from the 2022 Jets draft class.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) July 30, 2022
Fourth overall pick, cornerback Sauce Gardner, had a phenomenal day. He showed out during the 11-on-11 scrimmages, locking down Elijah Moore on a handful of throws his way. Gardner, who has been receiving praise early in camp, has been working opposite of free agent signing D.J. Reed with the Jets first-team defense. As a matter of fact, on Reed’s pick-six during the red-zone period, Gardner ran the full 100-yards back and did a backflip in celebration.
Meanwhile, Garrett Wilson got fans on their feet on multiple occasions. Despite some drops, Wilson displayed his strong hands, huge catch radius, and vertical leap. His developing connection with quarterback Zach Wilson is worth noting, as they connected multiple times.
Lastly, Breece Hall was among the biggest winners from today’s practice. While there’s limited contact and no pads, the field vision and short-area quickness of Hall’s game was fully visible. Fans are already taking a liking to the Iowa State product too, chanting essentially every time he touches the ball…
Breece Hall cruising through the hole, but appeared that Mekhi Becton jumped early. Followed up by fans chanting “Breeeeeece”
— Mason H. Smoller (@Smollerreport) July 30, 2022
Notable Performers of the Day
Offense: Wide Receiver Rashard Davis
It only took a couple of days after being signed by the Jets for wide receiver Rashard Davis to begin making some noise. The 5’9” and 175-pound wideout is known for his return ability and speed, but his strong hands were the biggest takeaway today. Whether it was with the second or third team, Davis was creating separation, to a point he even saw reps with the first-team offense as a motion man. And even at his size, Davis put on a show with Joe Flacco, with two of the longest catches of the day, both being in tight coverage down the sideline.
Back in 2017, Rashard Davis found his way to the Philadelphia Eagles after going undrafted out of James Madison. While he would bounce around the league through the 2019 season, his time in Philadelphia aligned with Jets General Manager Joe Douglas, offering a familiar face. Now, Davis finds himself entrenched in the wide receiver five/six competition. While Denzel Mims and Jeff Smith are the bigger names, do not be surprised if Davis continues to rise during camp.
Defense: Defensive End Bryce Huff
In 2021, Bryce Huff found himself in a new 4-3 defensive scheme that was unfamiliar to his previous 3-4 situational rusher/tweener edge defender role. The Memphis product performed well in his second season, albeit in a minimal role.
This time around, Huff could very well be playing himself into being a key rotation piece upfront. Now fully healthy after battling injuries last season, Huff looked like a completely different player on Saturday. As Saleh noted, Huff appears more comfortable entering his third year, with a better understanding of the playbook. His explosiveness off of the line is ridiculous, as should hits be allowed, he would have had a multi-sack practice. The Jets have a deep defensive front and there will be a few difficult cuts, but at the moment, Huff is making a really strong case to make the roster outright.
Other Notes and Analysis
Quarterback Zach Wilson had a solid, not great showing today, featuring three passing touchdowns in the red zone period and the D.J. Reed pick-six. Wide receiver Corey Davis made the catch of the day, while Garrett Wilson would’ve had him beat if not for two drops. The tight end duo was quiet early in the passing game, and Nathan Shepherd saw reps at defensive tackle with the first team defense. Additionally, Bryce Hall made a handful of plays in coverage and is not losing his starting spot without a fight.
Final Takeaways from Day 1 Amongst the Fans
In year three with the team, Joe Douglas’ approach changed. Last off-season it was about accumulating talent on the roster for Robert Saleh to coach. Now, it is all about developing the talent and taking that next step. The Jets have an exciting young core and plenty of playmakers and depth. The difference at this point this off-season compared to last is undeniable, and that is before the team even puts pads on. Come Tuesday, August 2nd, the addition of pads
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images