Denzel Mims is remaining focused, and Robert Saleh has his back
New York Jets fans looking for a replica jersey to support the team have been dealt an increasingly obsolete wardrobe in recent seasons.
The most popular green threads of modern times – the gameday duds of Jamal Adams, Robby Anderson, and Sam Darnold, for example – have been pushed to the back of closets after these new jerseys simply haven’t worked out in New Jersey.
In an all-too-telling coincidence, only one player (tight end Chris Herndon) lingers from the J.B. Smoove-hosted fashion show that unveiled the Jets’ current uniforms.
Fortunately for those who purchased Denzel Mims‘ jersey, duct tape isn’t necessary yet.
Rumors have surfaced that Mims, a second-year receiver, may be on the roster bubble as the Jets prepare for the 2021 NFL season. The idea seemed to gain legs when NBC’s Pro Football Talk took a Rich Cimini report on Mims’ practice reps to mean that he could get a surprise visit from the dreaded Turk.
Head coach Robert Saleh quashed the idea while speaking after Tuesday’s practice and doubled down on Wednesday. Once he saw Mims working with the Jets’ top offensive unit, he couldn’t help but smile knowing the interrogation that laid ahead.
“I saw him running with the ones and I’m like, ‘You know, the media is going to ask about whether or not he’s with the ones’,” Saleh said, per notes from the Jets. “He’s been running with the ones here and there. These guys are on rotation … The only ones who run with the ones unconditionally, you got Corey Davis, and I want to say Keelan (Cole), and Jamison (Crowder).
“Otherwise, everyone is rotating in, everyone is getting their reps, same thing as running back, same thing at D-line, linebackers, safeties, corners, all of it.”
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On Wednesday, Saleh reiterated that the team was “absolutely not” ready to give up on Mims, though the feeling extended to all remaining participants of Jets camp, especially considering that the preseason opener is still several days away.
Mims was chosen in the second round of 2020’s virtual draft and was seen by some analysts as a steal. The pressure was slightly raised on Mims as he was meant to be a bit of a consolation prize for the Jets opting out of the elite receiver conversation to instead take blocker Mekhi Becton. Among those chosen after Becton was Justin Jefferson, the future Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Early injuries in training camp handicapped Mims’ rookie year, limiting him to 357 yards on 23 receptions over nine games. Mims was nonetheless praised for his ability and potential as a big play threat, as his 15.5-yard average was good for second amongst Jets receivers with at least 20 receptions.
Related Article: Denzel Mims' route statistics prove he is actually a good scheme fit
Offseason activities, however, have seen Mims get somewhat lost in the fold with reinforcements arriving through both the draft (Elijah Moore) and free agency (Davis, Cole).
Mims appeared in the second slot on the Jets’ first depth chart released earlier this week. Speaking publicly on Wednesday, the receiver brushed off the idea that he’s fighting for his Jets career, nor does he feel any additional pressure brought upon by the newcomers.
“Worrying? No, I just got to focus on my job, continue to be myself, and focus on my craft so I can get better,” Mims said. “If you’re just worried about (reps and others), you get no better. So I just got to worry about myself, focus on the moment.”
The Baylor alum revealed on Wednesday that a bout of food poisoning, brought about by a bad piece of salmon, also stifled his offseason progress. Mims lost 20 pounds through the incident and has gained only half of it back. While he wouldn’t commit to a completely clean bill of health, he replied that he felt “good” when asked if he was 100 percent and promised to be ready for Week 1 in Carolina.
To that end, Mims has relied on his faith and is making sure that no minute of practice goes to waste. When he’s not working with the formation on team drills, he will often work to the side with the quarterbacks to stay fresh and make up for as much lost time as possible.
“When I’m not in, I catch with quarterbacks to make sure we’re on the same page. I just try to do everything I can to make sure I’m ready,” Mims said. He insisted that the extra work was his own suggestion rather than a coaches’ mandate.
“That’s what I want, it’s something that I choose to do. They don’t force you to catch extra balls, but I want to catch extra balls. I want to get extra time with the QBs, with the coaches, so that I can be ready.”
Mims further reported that he was building a strong rapport with new quarterback Zach Wilson, who offered his own glowing review of the sophomore shortly after his own statements.
“He just wants to be great. He’s really just trying to show everybody what he can do,” Wilson said. “He’s just doing everything he can to make sure he follows his assignment, gives that full effort. We’re going to do what we can to get him the ball.”
Any idea that Jets fans were ready to bid Mims farewell was likely rendered null during Wednesday’s proceedings. A long catch down the sidelines from the arm of backup thrower Mike White reportedly produced Florham Park’s loudest cheer of the day from those gathered to view the Jets’ fifth open practice of the summer.
The Jets open their preseason slate on Saturday night against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium (7:30 p.m. ET, WNBC).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags
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