Jets HC Robert Saleh continues to emphasize situational football during voluntary workouts. As the club completed its second week of OTAs, the Green & White got in a lot of work inside the red area and then flipped the script and had the offense operate from the shadow of its own end zone with some third-down reps. Friday's workout again featured a heavy dose of 7-on-7 with team drills mixed in as well.
Zach Wilson was red hot during one of those red zone 7-on-7 periods, connecting with WR Vyncint Smith and Elijah Moore in addition to RBs Michael Carter and Ty Johnson for scores. He would have been a perfect 5 of 5 had not an official ruled that WR Braxton Berrios did not have control of the ball before sliding out of bounds. Berrios vehemently disagreed with the call that negated a great ball from the rookie and a diving reception by Berrios in the corner of the end zone.
But the defense got the better of Wilson on a couple of occasions with S J.T. Hassell picking off a Wilson pass over the middle and second-year DL Jabari Zuniga recording a would-be strip-sack of the rookie. Also, veteran linebacker C.J. Mosley deftly stepped in front of a Wilson red-zone rope and nearly hauled in a pick. Early in practice, Wilson dazzled with his accuracy when he fired a dart to his fellow rookie, Moore, over the middle amid defenders.
Saleh said before practice: "There are ebbs and flows. I'm sure you might see a couple today. Wednesday was the first session the offense was in the red zone. Everything gets tighter and that's where rookies traditionally struggle because the windows are tighter, decisions have to be made faster. The difference between field goals and touchdowns win football games. When you saw that, those are the areas of situational football he's going to have to improve at obviously."
At this point, every rep is meaningful for Wilson. In less than two weeks, the Jets will break after mandatory minicamp and the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft won't take the field with his teammates again until the start of training camp. The Jets continue to be impressed by Wilson's maturity and mental approach.
"You love the kid's demeanor, you love his mindset, the way he's attacking everything," Saleh said. "You love the progress. Now it's just a matter of continuing to get reps, get live reps, get game reps and go through the bumps and bruises. You trust that his mindset isn't going to let him fail."
Much has been made of Wilson's explosive arm, butthe athletic passer has the ability to change speeds and do it from multiple angles. During his news briefing, Saleh recalled a play from a session last week.
"The defense was running a coverage that vacated the middle of the field and he had Berrios down the middle and he just zipped it in there and didn't try to do anything cute with it," said the first-year head coach. "He got it to him in a hurry. Some young quarterbacks might try and make the perfect throw, but he just got it in and out of his hands as quickly as possible and got it to him as quickly as possible so he could create with the ball in his hands. We felt like that was a pretty veteran move. We love the mindset of the young man, we love where he's going. There's still stuff that he will have to learn, but he has great control of his arm. It's not just the fastball for sure."
Mims Back At It
While WR Corey Davis (nagging ailments) worked to the side and LT Mekhi Becton (foot soreness) watched the offensive line go through their paces, Denzel Mims (illness) returned to the practice field. He was on the receiving end of a short scoring strike from Wilson and spent some time after practice conversing with Moore. With Davis out for a few workouts and WR Jamison Crowder negotiating contract details with the club, Wilson has worked with a number of different receivers with the first team. The 6-3, 207-pound Mims looks like he may have added some muscle to his upper body and the Jets should have two big, physical receivers on the outside when he is paired with Mims. Moore and Keelan Cole have had solid springs and Berrios continues to be active and make plays.
See the Best Images from Friday's OTA Practice
Veteran RB Tevin Coleman didn't participate in the practice, but he's moved well throughout OTAs. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur will have plenty of backfield options once the regular season commences. "You want to share the load that gives these guys the chance to have longevity in their careers because feeding them the ball that much could also be a negative," Saleh said. "When you look at the backfield that we have, they all have different skillsets. Tevin is explosive and fast, you have [LaMical] Perine who's a big power back and can get downfield in a hurry. Obviously [Michael Carter] is a very agile, quick back. Ty Johnson is explosive. I'm sure I'm forgetting someone, but each back has a unique trait and being able to find a role for them is going to be what's fun throughout this process." … During the session, LB Blake Cashman, and DTs Folorunso Fatukasi and Jonathan Marshall were among a group who worked to the side. … With Marcus Maye not in attendance and Ashtyn Davis not at the OTAs seen by the media, the Jets have had a different look at safety with Lamarcus Joyner and J.T. Hassell getting plenty of run. … In addition to Zuniga's strip-sack, former 49ers DL Ronnie Blair shot the gap and corralled a back for a loss behind the line of scrimmage. … Both kickers had solid rounds, but Sam Ficken closed by making his 50-yarder and rookie Chris Naggar pushed his final boot wide left.