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NY Jets minicamp: Xavier Gipson shines, Aaron Rodgers elicits

New York Jets, Minicamp, Xavier Gipson, Malachi Corley, Braelon Allen
New York Jets, Minicamp, Xavier Gipson, Malachi Corley, Braelon Allen, Getty Images

New York Jets minicamp wraps up with plenty of headlines

FLORHAM PARK, NJ—The eyeball difference between Tuesday and Wednesday was stark yet simultaneously understandable. While driving down 1 Jets Drive on a Tuesday morning in Florham Park, NJ, the jacked-up attendance for the New York Jets minicamp’s initial day was evident.

A day later, however, the minicamp capper on Wednesday reversed course. Finding an acceptable parking spot suddenly came easy.

Why this was the case is pretty simple to conclude: The football dude named Aaron Rodgers draws attention.

Nobody knew Rodgers wouldn’t attend the mandatory minicamp. Thus, on Tuesday, the whole media cavalry marched towards Jets land. Take the lightning rod down for safe-keeping, and the usually-present eyeballs are quickly replaced by digital headlines run amok.

Yes, Rodgers deserves criticism for his unexcused absence, but let’s also avoid going too crazy. More on Mr. Rodgers and his neighborhood will be coming to Jet X later this week (stay tuned).

Xavier Gipson shines at minicamp

The New York Jets fans’ last taste of practice-field football until the official commencement of 2024 training camp featured tremendous positives and worrisome negatives. Leading the positive column is second-year wide receiver Xavier Gipson.

As of this moment, I view Xavier Gipson as the team’s No. 2 wide receiver. (That’s not to say I project him as the No. 2 WR for Week 1, but rather he’s currently No. 2 based on the team’s current situation.)

Gipson built upon a strong OTA showing in the minicamp by showcasing improved route running.

Gipson’s top highlight came on Tuesday when he ran a tremendous route in red zone team sessions. Working out of a 3×1 look (trips), he beat his man with a sharp (and quick) out-to-in in-breaking route that would have gone for six if Tyrod Taylor hit him in the end zone.

On Wednesday, Gipson snagged an excellent RAC rep on a longer-developing play-action where he and Garrett Wilson ran the mesh concept.

Later on, he got the two-minute drill appropriately started with a dig RAC opportunity.

Although the dig placed Gipson into a dead area against the zone coverage, it wasn’t a simple catch and run. Taylor correctly threw the ball to the back shoulder —in order to not lead Gipson into a hospital ball—and the sophomore weapon brilliantly adjusted.

The understandable Malachi Corley hype has Jets fans excited for improved weaponry this season, but don’t forget about Xavier Gipson for one moment. As of this moment—considering the injuries and pace of the rookies—view Gipson as the New York Jets’ No. 2 wideout.

Impressive OL tempo

One of the bright spots is the offensive line tempo. Remember, this isn’t training camp. Remember, this is also 2024.

Long gone are the days of Bear Bryant’s crippling two-a-days that force many young humans to question their actual existence on this planet. The current CBA does its best to prevent spring and summer hardship for players, much to the chagrin of football coaches sea to shining sea.

While throwing in the offensive line coach hoopla featuring Keith Carter, the OTA and minicamp tempo generally impressed me (when the team broke out into positionals).

The Jets escaped camp a year ago without major injuries, contrasting with previous seasons. Ultimately, however, they were once again hit hard during the season.

Therefore, one of my top narratives is keeping an eye on tempo and sweat level this summer. Head coach Robert Saleh and his staff are handcuffed in several ways, but pushing the envelope as much as possible can benefit them over the long run.

In other words, a more rapid tempo leading to a couple of major summer injuries is a more beneficial approach than a country club environment that eliminates summer injuries but forces the team into a tough start of the season.

Nowhere is this more important than at the offensive line.

Stock up

  • Xavier Gipson
  • Braelon Allen
  • Isaiah Davis
  • Jeremy Ruckert
  • Kenny Yeboah
  • Tony Adams
  • Quan’Tez Stiggers
  • Andrew Peasley
  • Tyron Smith

The stock-up list naturally features the aforementioned Xavier Gipson, but it does not stop there. Rookie running backs Braelon Allen and Isaiah Davis impressed in various ways.

Firstly, the two backs are no-nonsense players. Youth or even high school coaches often struggle to identify a running back. Not only does the player need to have the physical traits and required senses, but he also needs to showcase a no-fear attitude.

“Hitting the hole with purpose” isn’t nearly the same thing as simply “hitting the hole.” To do so is to put your body on the line while trusting your 10 teammates. Both Allen and Davis hit the hole with authority, and it meshes extremely well with the team’s rushing concepts.

Better yet, both have featured eye-opening receiving skills. For a couple of “power backs,” as they’ve been commonly described, their work in the passing game has been on full display.

Allen’s best catch came in OTAs a week ago, when he high-pointed a deep shot on the left sideline, but the incessant check-downs have forced onlookers to realize that Allen and Davis can contribute to the aerial attack.

For both, it’ll come down to pass protection.

Elsewhere, the tight-end duo of Jeremy Ruckert and Kenny Yeboah continue trending upward. Both guys enjoyed solid days at OTAs, but the swell production carried over to minicamp.

This isn’t meant to shut out starter Tyler Conklin; it’s more of a Conklin positive since his positive production is expected.

As seen in the above X post (formerly Twitter), Andrew Peasley enjoyed nearly half of the minicamp action (complementing Tyrod Taylor). Without Rodgers and rookie Jordan Travis on the field, Peasley ran the second unit and slowly but surely started to get a hang of things.

Other than a late Wednesday interception—where he tried forcing one in—Peasley played well. Perhaps his best throw was a touch job that fit perfectly over the second level and just before the solo-high safety (third level).

He also hit Conklin on a seam against a three-high coverage—which is the perfect read against that look.

Speaking of Peasley’s lone interception, rookie corner Quan’Tez Stiggers also deserves a stock-up shoutout. He was the man to pick off Peasley, and he also jumped in with the big boys for a little red-zone action late in practice.

On another play, he shut down Allen Lazard on a goal-line fade. Although the ball had a bit too much air under it and may have been a tick late, Stiggers’s sticky coverage was evident (inside-out, maintaining hip contact throughout, etc.).

Safety Tony Adams quietly drives this defensive bus. Although he’s still a bit raw, his man-v-man coverage abilities give him an incredible advantage and a sky-high ceiling in this pass-happy league.

He can play solo high or drive down for run support or coverage. Adams broke up a flat play while playing zone on Wednesday, and he made sure to let the world know about it.

Lastly, Tyrson Smith is just a beast. That is all.

Stock down

  • Zack Kuntz
  • Malachi Corley
  • Olu Fashanu
  • Izzy Abanikanda
  • Haason Reddick

The stock-down list begins with sophomore tight end Zack Kuntz who simply cannot hang on to the ball.

While none of the drops have been cupcakes, tight ends want and need to hang on to the tough catch-in-traffic balls that Kuntz hasn’t been able to convert thus far. Ruckert and Yeboah are currently well ahead of him regarding the depth chart.

Rookies Malachi Corley and Olu Fashanu are only on the stock-down list for one simple reason: They are indeed rookies, which means the learning curve is real in this league.

There really isn’t much to worry about with both kids; it’s just critical to note current progress and break it down as much as possible.

Fashanu is learning the ropes as a professional, which is much more difficult in today’s league (for an OL)—particularly as opposed to yesteryear when plug-and-play offensive linemen were the norm (thanks to the more balanced playstyle at all football levels). Corley is sort of in the same boat, but more on him later in this story.

Pitt product Izzy Abanikanda left Tuesday’s minicamp with an injury and did not participate on Wednesday. With Braelon Allen and Isaiah Davis off to hot starts, Abankinda has his work cut out for him this summer.

Haason Reddick polishes off our stock-down list for good reason. Although the hoopla doesn’t match the actual item at hand, the fact that Reddick did not attend mandatory minicamp is a legit headline.

However, there shouldn’t be much worry in Jets land. Joe Douglas’s decision to inherit Reddick and his contract is heavily insured due to one factual certainty: The man must play in order to get paid.

Plus, Reddick quelled Jets fan fears on Wednesday afternoon with a simple message:

Mike Williams speaks

Still rehabbing his knee injury, free agent wideout Mike Williams spoke to the media after Wednesday’s session. Donning his year-round beanie, Williams was careful not to throw an exact return date into existence while also not shying away from the topic at hand.

I expect Williams to be ready by Week 1, but I also believe it’ll be arduous. It seems the Jets are doing everything possible to eliminate any potential speed bumps, which means an extremely slow yet steady rehab process is ongoing.

Malachi Corley still needs work

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