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3 Things to Watch | Jets-Packers Preseason Game

Zach Wilson Excited for ‘Live Bullets’; Special Teams in Focus


Game 2 for No. 2
Jets rookie QB Zach Wilson received favorable reviews after his first preseason action and is looking for a similar outing in his second.

"Really the same thing as we did the first," he said. "How can we be cleaner? Execution, no negative plays, in and out of the huddle, dominating up front but then also being able to just have some explosive plays. Get up and down the field and score some points."

Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft, looked comfortable last Saturday against the Giants and showed good decision making while completing 6 of 9 passes for 63 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions (87 rating). Head coach Robert Saleh said that Wilson will play a couple more series than last week, which would put him at three or four. Wilson's two drives against the Giants resulted in three points.

He won't get to play against his favorite player when he was growing up, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers isn't taking a preseason snap. After two joint practices lining up against Green Bay's defense, Wilson is excited for the real test.

"I think that's so tough [to evaluate where you are] because in practice we're not getting tackled," he said. "It's like how do you know if you needed to escape or not and that's what's so tough. You need to kind of just pretend like the pocket is good and I think, kind of like I said last week, once the bullets are live, I think you kind of just naturally understand when to get in and out of the pocket and escape. You'll see messy fronts, guys breaking through or whatever and you kind of understand when to get out. But right now, it's too hard to know when guys are up behind us if we're getting hit right there or if we got to go or if we should just stay there and throw the ball."

Fire Off the Ball
Similar to Wilson's reference to not being tackled in practice, the running game's true litmus test can only come in the game when O-linemen can go at full force and the running backs get tackled. The starters fired off the ball against the Giants as RBs Ty Johnson and rookie Michael Carter combined for 34 yards on 7 carries (4.9 avg) on the offense's first drive.

"The first play was a 12-yard run, so to come out and to see it truly where those holes are going to be, truly to see if our running backs break the arm tackle," C Connor McGovern said. "When it's not in practice, you ought to give the defense the benefit of the doubt that he's going to make that arm tackle. You want to give the running back the benefit of the doubt that he's going to break it. So, it's hard to truly see where the yards are out there.

"We're fired up. Kind of feel like a broken record but this whole offensive line is built for this and we're really excited. I think we have some really, really good backs so we're going to be able to run the ball and in this system, that's the best way to help Zach out. I think we'll be able to accomplish that."

See All of the Top Images from the Jets' Trip to Green Bay for Joint Practices

Increase Your Value
While most fans will pay attention to how K Matt Ammendola, who has a chance to "seize" the job and P Braden Mann, who had an impressive start to his second season against the Giants, on special teams, reserve players will try and showcase their value as they jockey for a spot on the 53-man roster. Last week, for example, WR Vyncint Smith made a great play by knocking one of Mann's punts out at the 1-yard line.

"We talked about it the other day, [special teams coordinator Brant Boyer] doesn't sit in the corner without having an opinion," Saleh said. "He's going to have a say. He's still a big part of this game even though the rules are trying to tilt against it. He's still a big part of this game and when you look at value of the roster, how much can you contribute to special teams, especially if you're not a quote-unquote starter? Your value on special teams becomes that more important, so it is very valuable."

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