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New York Jets training camp: Denzel Mims aggression, Zach Wilson stock

Underdog Jets, Training Camp, Denzel Mims, Sauce Gardner, Carl Lawson
Underdog Jets, Training Camp, Denzel Mims, Sauce Gardner, Carl Lawson, Getty Images, Robby Sabo

New York Jets training camp begins with a resurgence

FLORHAM PARK, NJ—Sometimes, an individual wakes up in a way that grabs the bull by its horns. An up-and-at-’em attitude smashes the alarm clock en route to beautiful things.

Other times, however, the bull grabs you.

Multiple snooze pushes force the fragile human to go through the day with an annoying alarm sound continuously ringing in their ears. It’s this scenario that allows the bull to lead the way.

Exactly one year ago today, New York Jets‘ then-sophomore wide receiver Denzel Mims was not just following the bull; he found himself lagging behind in a Randy from A Christmas Story-type fashion. Although that tactic—combined with lying down like a slug—is effective against the likes of Scott Farkus and toadie Grover Dill, it’s no way to navigate professional football life.

Interestingly, now-third-year weapon Denzel Mims is showing signs of that very realization.

Denzel Mims’ ball-in-air attitude adjustment

By far, the most noticeable player on day No. 1 of the New York Jets 2022 training camp was No. 11. Although Denzel Mims hauled in four of his five targets in 11v11 team sessions, pay very little attention to the numbers.

The critical aspect of Mims’s day revolves around his newfound attitude adjustment.

Interestingly, the Baylor product’s day started ominously, when he was forced to seek the equipment manager for a helmet fix. The “here we go again” vibes by way of a slow Mims start began to flow.

But then teams commenced and all concerns washed away.

Mims’s aggressive attitude shined brightly in Florham Park, NJ, on Wednesday. His aggression with the ball in the air (attacking the ball), coupled with a real (and perceived) extended catch-radius opened eyes.

One of his early hauls featured Joe Flacco fitting a nice ball into a window against zone, over the second defensive level and just shy of the last line of defense. Mims extended for the pretty reception.

Another grab showcased his extended catch radius when Mike White fit a beautiful ball into Mims on an in-breaking route. With a defender draped all over his inside shoulder (tremendous coverage with plenty of contact), Mims made the all-hands catch in an incredibly tough spot.

It’s just one day, of course, but Denzel Mims has not allowed the bull to lead the way in 2022—as compared to 2021.

Zach Wilson’s visible comfort

Hey, “It is what it is.” These were Zach Wilson‘s words following training camp’s first practice, as it relates to his Joe Willie Namath-type drama over the summer.

“It’s just focusing on football and that’s really all I can do,” is how Wilson responded when asked by the New York Post’s Brian Costello about the personal drama that unfolded over the last month or so. “It is what it is, and I’m excited to be here with the boys and excited to be in Idaho with those guys at the time. I’m excited to just try to get better every single day that’s all I’ve been focusing on.”

Zach Wilson’s stock is truly going to the moon (Alice), something Jets legend Wayne Chrebet fully agreed with on the latest episode of Jets X-Factor’s The Underdog Jets Podcast.

As silly as it sounds, the once-perceived “awkward” kid who could not stand next to some of his fellow NFL draftees on draft night (a falsehood in reality), now seemingly fits right in there with one of the boys. The kid’s stock is not only increasing thanks to how he handled the drama that’s followed him this summer, but also due to his culture-building leadership abilities.

Wilson’s insistence on working with his weapons this summer has translated to a much more comfortable feel for him on the practice field. On Wednesday, the BYU product looked cool, calm and poised all afternoon.

Other than a nice red-zone interception by veteran D.J. Reed, Wilson made most of the correct reads. Early in practice, he hit rookie Garrett Wilson on a nice first-down out-breaking route that showcased incredible anticipation.

Quarterback Wilson also allowed the game to come to him. The very first pass play of teams resulted in a boring Tyler Conklin check-down (late release, middle of the field) after his two vertical threats were clearly locked down by the coverage.

Mekhi Becton: The right-anchor mountain

Mekhi Becton, the mountain of a man with a heart as lovable as your favorite mischievous nephew, now represents the offensive right-side anchor. One of the overhyped questions of the 2022 Jets season—overhyped since it really was not a genuine question, at least not here at Jets X-Factor—revolved around who would play left tackle.

Head coach Robert Saleh put the silly notion to bed as early as possible.

“He’s going to be our right tackle, and we’re going to have George (Fant) over there at left,” Saleh told the media after practice.

It makes complete sense. George Fant played extremely well on the left side last year. Considering Alijah Vera-Tucker is also transitioning to the right side, allowing the two kids to remain together is a great call.

Additionally, the strategy here feels flawless. Announcing an “open left tackle competition” early in the spring hung some motivation in the ether. In spite of the Jets’ clear disappointment in Becton’s physical shape during mandatory minicamp time, the kid entered training camp in a way that should have Slim Jim endorsements rushing in.

(Sure, Slim Jim does not make sense from a weight-loss perspective, but hey, somebody needs to replace the great Macho Man Randy Savage, right?)

Other training camp notes

Along with Zach Wilson, both Joe Flacco and Mike White played well. Flacco, particularly, looked sharp all session, making correct reads and placing the ball in tremendous places.

The very first play of 11v11 teams kicked off the session with fantastic tempo, especially for a shorts-and-helmets session. D.J. Reed knocked Michael Carter to the ground with a half-strip, half-shoulder thump.

Rookie Sauce Gardner yet again looked the part. The Jets’ top pick from the 2022 NFL draft was particular quiet in team sessions, which is an amazing thing for a rookie cornerback. The quieter the corner is, the more that means the targets are going elsewhere.

Gardner is also extremely keen on making sure the fundamentals are fully in tow. At some point prior to or after positionals, he got in some press-tech work with coaches.

The Jets’ defensive backs also got in a little outer-third bail-tech work—something every NFL team does but especially relates to the Saleh scheme that requires its corners to play a rangy-type spot with eyes in the right place.

The New York Jets will be back at it Thursday morning a little after 10 a.m. ET.

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1 year ago

Love the positive energy Robby! You don’t get much of that on the Jets’ Beat. I have nothing against Costello but really, stop with the social media questions. It’s not sports. I’m glad you led with Mims, it’s only one practice but as you noted the right mindset is progress. I know there has been a lot of chatter about showcasing him so they can trade him but I think it’s too soon. The idea the Jets are loaded at WR is a bit of an overstatement. Here’s a question: Why can’t Mims beat out Davis for playing time? I think it’s possible, and perhaps being the Davis replacement next season. I just think we get so hung up on immediate results. He’s got a chance, let it play out.

The biggest thing in my mind for the Jets is the culture has changed. Give credit where it’s due to Joe and Saleh, in that regard they are clearly the right people for the job. Now, they have to turn that culture into a “winning culture.” Time will tell.

1 year ago
Reply to  Jets71

Jets71…totally agree w/ all your points! It’s great to actually be excited about our team. My 17 yr old son is constantly complaining about Jets fans being so guarded in their optimism. As a Shea season tix family I understand the conditioned skepticism, but the Saleh/Douglas team is the real deal. Keep Mims.
Get Klecko in the HOF!