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Jets Notebook | HC Robert Saleh Knows OTAs Are Not Mandatory, but They Are 'Priceless'

QB Zach Wilson on WR Garrett Wilson: The Dude Is a Sponge


With a solid infusion of new talent -- in free agency and in the NFL draft -- and the Jets' cadre of "young veterans" itching to get back on the field, head coach Robert Saleh has welcomed the vast majority of his players to this year's voluntary Organized Team Activities at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center

A bit of background: OTAs, a 10-day program, occur in Phase 3 of each club's nine-week offseason workout program, which consist of meetings, drills and film study. Teams can conduct sessions for six hours maximum, but cannot keep players on the field for more than two hours -- minus live contact.

For Saleh and his coaching staff, the OTAs offer an opportunity to get to know the new players better and is an opportunity for all players attending to bone up on the playbook.

"We got two new tight ends [C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin signed in free agency], we've got another receiver [rookie Garrett Wilson] to add to the fold, and then on defense we've got all those guys in the back end [including D.J. Reed and Jordan Whitehead signed in free agency and first-round pick Ahmad 'Sauce' Gardner].

"Any time you can get those guys together again, they've got to play football. They've got to play football against one another to be able to get good at it and to be able to go and communicate with one another and understand how they play certain concepts so they can learn to play off one another. There's a lot of things that come into play once they all get together. So, yeah, I think it's all priceless."

See the Jets on the field during the second OTA practice of 2022.

Sherwood and Nasirildeen Fit at Linebacker
While the Jets addressed needs on both offense and defense in free agency and the draft, the Green & White decided to stand pat (for now) at one position group: linebacker.

C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams, each of whom had strong 2021 seasons, are again expected to be the linchpins. Who gets the nod at the other outside 'backer berth remains an open question. Last year the team drafted two college safeties -- Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen -- and moved them to linebacker. Sherwood sustained an Achilles tendon injury in Week 7, Nasirildeen missed five games because of injuries and saw limited action at linebacker. At present, the Jets have six LBs on the roster: Mosley, Quincy Williams, Sherwood, Nasirildeen, Del'Shawn Phillips and D.Q. Thomas.

Asked about the position group, Saleh said: "Sherwood, he's still recovering obviously from the Achilles, but he's out there. Excited to get him back, I believe for training camp. Then Naz [Nasirildeen] is out there, too, getting his work in. He looks good.

"Again, it's just a matter of trigger. For them, it's going to be when pads come on. They're safeties converted to linebacker. I know they've both put on weight, they've solidified their bodies a little bit. It's just going to be a matter of taking these reps. For Wood [Sherwood], obviously he's going to be a little bit behind trying to get it back for training camp. He is wired in, he's locked in and he's going through everything mentally. They're good, they're in good shape, just got to continue getting these reps and seize their opportunities."

Wilson Checks Out the Other Wilson
Second-year quarterback Zach Wilson has a new guy to throw to -- first-round draft pick Garrett Wilson, No. 10 overall -- and he could not be happier

"The dude is a sponge," Wilson said. "He's soaking it up, he's learning a bunch. With being a rookie, just like me last year, you can't really show exactly what you got until you can line up correctly and be confident in what you're doing. He's going through that learning stage still, but he's a quick learner. You can see the talent jump off the page, he's a really good player. He definitely has the skills, the toolset and definitely the mindset to be great."

From Sanchez to Wilson
In 2009 the Jets moved up from No. 17 to No. 5 overall to draft Mark Sanchez. In 2021, they used their own No. 2 pick to take Zach Wilson. Each QB arrived with much fanfare, but joined teams in different situations that asked different things of them.

"It was a unique situation when Sanchez came in as a top five pick," the former Jets player and current ESPN analyst Damien Woody told team reporter Eric Allen on the new edition of "The Official Jets Podcast." "With Zach, it was not the case of us trading up. We were a good football team [advancing to consecutive AFC title games in Sanchez's first two seasons]. Mark was in an unusual situation. He didn't have to be the savior. It was about running the ball and playing good defense and letting Sanchez learn on the fly. The difference is with Zach, he's in a situation where the whole team was and is young."

Asked about the intriguing Jets schedule -- opening with fourth straight against AFC North teams, three home against AFC East (Miami, Oct. 9; New England, Oct. 30; and Buffalo, Nov. 6) before the bye (Week 10), and then three away to division rivals after the bye (at New England, Nov. 20; at Buffalo, Dec. 11; and at Miami, Jan. 7 or 8) -- Woody said: "I would say the schedule makers didn't do the Jets any favors. But if you aspire to take a leap that's what it is."

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