One word came to Robert Saleh's mind to describe QB Aaron Rodgers' performance Saturday that included multiple touchdown passes, highlight throws and the offense's first victory of camp: Precision.
Rodgers thrived in the red zone, which shouldn't be a surprise as his 100.8 passer rating in the red area from 2008-'22 ranks seventh-best in that span and his 19.94 TD-to-INT ratio is No. 1 of the 49 QBs who have at least 400 red-zone attempts since 1991. The four-time NFL MVP threw back-to-back touchdowns to TE Tyler Conklin and WR Corey Davis late in Saturday's session. Rodgers fired a pass in the back of the end zone to Conklin with LB Jamien Sherwood draped over him. Then Rodgers rolled right and delivered a strike to Davis, who used his 6-4 frame to shield himself from D.J. Reed.
"The throw he made to Corey, I don't know if you could have put it anywhere else," Saleh said. "D.J. had really nice coverage and what's great about it is that there's talk after the play about it. For D.J., he was like, 'I could have done this a little bit better to eliminate that inch that Aaron had to throw it in.' Credit to Corey using his big body to shield in his big body and catch it. Just overall, great precision. It was a really good day for [Rodgers]."
The team finished practice with a four-play situational period to score. The offense only needed two. Rodgers first connected with Michael Carter on a screen. In vintage Rodgers fashion, he then got the defense to jump offside and found Mecole Hardman Jr. in the back of the end zone for six. The fans erupted and the defense dropped to the turf for pushups.
"Whenever you get a guy who can sling it like he can, you're lucky," Saleh said. "There's not a lot of guys in the world who can do it like he can."
Hardman said of the offense: "Day-by-day we're getting better and better, start building chemistry, getting more familiar with the playbook, with Aaron and what he wants and likes," Hardman said. "As the days progress, I think we'll start getting better as an offense."
Energetic, Chippy Practice
More than 2,000 fans were at One Jets Drive Saturday, roaring J-E-T-S and Aaron Rodgers chants before practice began.
"I love it," Saleh said. "When the fans come it always adds a little juice. Those guys are excited to show out, so you try to keep them focused and level. Whether the fans are there or not, you have to focus on the moment like we've all talked about. I love when they get the chant going, the fatman pumped up before practice. I love all of it, so it's all fun."
The fans were loud throughout practice and temperatures were elevated in the trenches. Tyler Conklin and John Franklin-Myers got into a scuffle as did Jermaine Johnson and Kenny Yeboah shortly thereafter.
"It's hot, but it was good," Saleh said. "It was good to the see the offense fight back a little bit. Got another day tomorrow."
See the best photos from the first open practice of 2023 Jets Training Camp.
Sauce Gardner and Garrett Wilson each got the best of each other on consecutive plays. Gardner knocked away a deep Aaron Rodgers pass intended for Wilson before Wilson squeaked open on a short route. Rodgers caught the defense on its heels, going to a quick count. … WR Allen Lazard hauled in a pair of impressive catches -- one over the middle and one near the sideline -- from Zach Wilson, who had his best day throwing the pigskin.
The defensive line had good pressure throughout from the likes of Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, Carl Lawson and Micheal Clemons. … UDFA LB Caleb Johnson also had a would-be sack. … UDFA CB Derrick Langford broke up a pass diving to the sideline. … RB Zonovan Knight had a chunk gain on a screen behind a caravan of linemen that included Alijah Vera-Tucker. … K Greg Zuerlein made all six of his field goals including a 52-yard boot.