For their ninth practice of training camp, the Jets moved to MetLife Stadium on Saturday night and were greeted by the support of nearly 20,000 fans. The defense shut out the offense in the opening half, but the offense got going in the second half with four scores.
Head coach Robert Saleh said: "It was awesome. I think the fans are like me in the sense of who do you cheer for? Offense or defense? It was awesome to just be able to go through this thing -- go to the stadium and go through as game-like of an experience as we can create for the players, so next Saturday [vs. the Giants] it normal. But it was cool."
Rookie QB Zach Wilson led a FG drive after getting things moving with a rip over the middle to Vyncint Smith. On another possession, Wilson fired short to fellow rookie Elijah Moore and the Mississippi product got to the ball in front of CB Bless Austin, scooting down the field for 20+ yards after the catch. But it was a mixed bag overall for Wilson who was intercepted by both nickel DB Javelin Guidry and ILB C.J. Mosley.
Guidry, who is battling for the starting nickel spot, had an excellent effort when he stepped in front of a Wilson pass intended for Jamison Crowder, and corralled it before turning up the field. Then late in the second half of action, Lamarcus Joyner got to another Wilson attempt in Crowder's direction, deflected into the air and Mosley came up with a diving interception.
Saleh said of Wilson: "To have the coaches off the field where he has to go through that process play in and play out, his coordinator [Mike LaFluer] in the box, his quarterback coach [Rob Calabrese] on the sideline and there's no one to turn to or talk to, so to have that first experience and to be able to go through it all, these moments are priceless for him. He had some good moments and obviously some rookie moments. It's going to be a lot of tape to learn off of for him."
See the Best Images from the Jets' Public Practice at MetLife Stadium on Saturday Night
Wilson wasn't happy with his performance, but the competitor is eager to watch the tape and get back out on the practice field.
"Not great," he said. "I have high expectations for myself and this offense. I have to lead those guys and make better decisions, but that's why this isn't Game 1. That's why we're doing this and I understand that. Of course I'm going to be frustrated with myself, but I'm going to go back in the film room and find out what I can learn and get better from."
All three quarterbacks led scoring drives. Mike White led the way with a pair, hitting rookie TE Kenny Yeboah in the back of the end zone and delivering a perfect touch pass to Josh Malone in the corner of the opposite end zone. Second-year pro James Morgan had a hand in the first points, finding a wide open Michael Carter for a TD as that drive was largely built on two Morgan completions to Manasseh Bailey.
The Jets defensive line continued to wreak havoc up front. Carl Lawson had an early run stuff that set the tone and he appeared to draw a holding penalty late. John Franklin-Myers had a sack of Wilson, Nathan Shepherd had a sack of White and Bryce Huff won the edge on multiple occasions. Jarrad Davis had his best practice of camp and Mosley also had an early PD to go along with his pick.
"I haven't put that on tape in two years, so I just got to remind everybody," said the Jets' No. 57. "Today was a great start, it felt good to be out there after a long time. It was great to have the fans, the fireworks show was fun. It was fun to compete. Always more to improve on -- I missed two tackles out there. Two big tackles in my opinion, so that's something I just have to get back to working on in practice.
"Besides that, I felt the defense had a pretty good day. Special teams looking pretty good. Offense made big plays when it counted, so that's what it's all about. Everybody working together and feeding off each other."
Kicking Under the Lights
Kickers Chris Naggar and Matt Ammendola alternated field-goal attempts under the lights like they typically do at practice in Florham Park. Naggar, who signed with the Jets in May as an undrafted free agent out of SMU, made his first field goal, 33 yards, but missed the next three (42, 50 and 53). Ammendola, who signed with the team July 30, connected on all four attempts and showed off the leg strength with room to spare on the 53-yard field goal.
T George Fant, who began camp on the team's Covid-19 reserve list, practiced for the first time. HC Robert Saleh said: "Credit to him. We were trying to get him out of there to give him a breath because it was his first time out and he's already trying to play a half of football when everybody else kind of had a ramp up. He gritted it out and we were right there watching him, but he fought through it so credit to him."… When asked about OLAlex Lewis, who was placed on the exempt/left squad list, Saleh said: "He's going through some things that are much greater than football right now and we're just giving him a chance to kind of sort through it all. That's about as detailed as I'll get right now for." … These players did not practice Saturday: S Ashtyn Davis (foot), T Chuma Edoga (knee), LB Del'Shawn Phillips, DL Kyle Phillips (ankle) OL Alijah Vera-Tucker (pec), DT Quinnen Williams(foot) and DL Jabari Zuniga (ankle). Rookie CB Isaiah Dunn also did not practice and appeared to have a black sleeve on his right left. … Before the scrimmage-like team periods, CB Elijah Campbell stripped the ball from Ty Johnson in a passing drill and Blake Cashmanscooped itl and headed the other way for a would-be score. … S Lamarcus Joyner had a couple of PDs including one in the red zone where he nearly came down with a forced Zach Wilson pass. ….Corey Davis made a great sideline catch despite being harassed by Bless Austin. … CB Justin Hardee, who has taken advantage of his reps in the defensive backfield, looked to be in midseason form while sprinting downfield from the gunner spot. … Saturday night's late word goes to C.J. Mosley, who said of Wilson: "There's always going to be ups and downs in any profession or in life, so you just have to do your best. When you're having a great time, stay humble and when you're having a down time, still stay humble because you have 21 brothers that have his back -- offense, defense and special teams. One of the first thigs I told him when he came in the building was, 'The defense's got your back.' No matter if he's killing the game or having a bad game or makes a play he didn't like, we always got his back. We want him to know that and everybody else in the facility is going to know that."