The Jets have started their 2023 training camp as both the talk of the town and the National Football League. After a young, emerging team added a future first-ballot Hall of Famer at quarterback, many pundits and fans are expecting big things for the team as it begins its journey under a magnifying glass.
"One thing I learned about this city is you can have an expansion team and the expectation is to go 17-0," head coach Robert Saleh said after Thursday's first practice of the summer. "But as far as pressure goes, the pressure is to do your best every day, find a way to get better every day and you trust that the results will come. You don't have control over results, but you do have control over how you approach every day personally and as a team."
As former Jets T Damien Woody, who played on the last Jets team that made the postseason, said this week on "The Official Jets Podcast," the Jets have gone from the hunter to the hunted.
"We embrace those expectations — we embrace being maybe a team that has a target on its back," Saleh said. "Take all of it and it is what it is, but you still have to bring yourself to the moment where your feet are present, attack the day and find a way to get better."
WR Garrett Wilson, the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year, said: "The expectations being high is the way that we strive as athletes. We love that and we want to have expectations to meet. No one wants to feel like they're being slept on or anything like that, and that's the vibe around here. It's cool, it puts a little chip on our shoulders. Now we have to go do it on Sundays and it all starts now."
While acknowledging his talented roster, Saleh, who was part of a Seahawks staff that won a Super Bowl in 2014 and a 49ers team in 2019 that won the NFC championship, knows the path ahead will be winding.
"Embrace the attention, love the attention," he said. "It's for good reason because we have a heck of a locker room, but the objective during training camp is to find a way to be a great team. And we've got a long road to that."
The Jets will be followed this summer by two stellar documentary crews and there were cameras everywhere as the summer season got underway. At the podium, Saleh wore a black long-sleeve shirt that read, "I love HK," in reference to his club being featured on "Hard Knocks."
"We're fine," Saleh said. "We've been doing "One Jets Drive" the last couple of years. Just talking with "Hard Knocks," they have a great group of people who are working with us. We expressed some of our concerns. They've answered it and it's going to be fine. It's no different than 'One Jets Drive.' "
The Jets' third-year head coach liked the competition on the field and wants a lively camp from his group.
"You want them every day to bring juice and energy," he said. "I want the defense in the offense's face, I want the offense fighting back. I want special teams playing well and fighting and competing. If you're out here just to through the motions and be emotionally neutral, you're not going to find a way to get better."
See the Green & White on the field for the first time at 2023 Jets Training Camp.
The Jets opened camp with four players on the active/physically unable to participate list – RB Breece Hall, TE C.J. Uzomah, WR Randall Cobb and rookie S Jarrick Bernard-Converse.
Head coach Robert Saleh said thatUzomah and Cobb are on similar return timetables, but Bernard-Converse and Hall are in their own groupings.
"Uzomah should be good here in the next couple of days," Saleh said. "JBC is dealing with a foot, so he'll come around. It'll take a couple weeks. Cobb should be cleared here in the next few days."
On Hall, Saleh said: "When he's ready, he's ready. One thing with these ACLs, you don't want to go too quick, but at the same time, you don't want to go too slow. There's a balancing act. Trust our trainers, trust our doctors and as of now, knock on wood, things are going really well."
Rotation Up Front
LT Duane Brown, coming off offseason shoulder surgery, has not reported for camp yet for personal reasons, but is expected back soon.
In his absence, Billy Turner, Max Mitchell, Mekhi Becton, Yodny Cajuste and Carter Warren took most of the reps at tackle. Becton, who lost more than 50 pounds in the offseason, does not have any physical limitations after not taking team reps in the spring.
"He's full steam," Saleh said. "He's done a great job this offseason getting his weight down. He's moving around really well, he's in a good mental space, so he's full-go and part of the competition."
Becton, who played left tackle in 2020 as a rookie and was the team's starting right tackle this time last year before sustaining a season-ending knee injury in training camp, took reps on the left side Thursday.
"We're flipping guys left and right," Saleh said. "Max [Mitchell] had some left and right tackle snaps. Same with Carter [Warren] and Billy Turner. The good thing about this is that we have five tackles that we feel really excited about to compete for two spots, and we have three centers that we're really excited about competing for that one spot. A lot of really good competition among the offensive line and I think through that competition, they're going to get a lot better."
Aaron Rodgers' first training camp pass as a Jet went to RB Michael Carter on a checkdown. … Rodgers was unable to find the end zone in the red-zone period as CB D.J. Reed made a nice play to break up a pass intended for TE Tyler Conklin. … Rodgers and Conklin connected in an earlier period with Conklin corralling the pass in traffic. CB Javelin Guidry broke up a pair of passes, including one on a deep ball from Tim Boyle. … CB Jimmy Moreland deflected a ball intended for WR Malik Taylor in the middle of the end zone in the red-zone period. … UDFA S Trey Dean punched the ball out of TE Isaiah Gathings' hands for a forced fumble. K Greg Zeurlein, working with a new holder in P Thomas Morstead, connected on all six of his field-goal attempts. … Carter, RB Zonovan Knight, RB Travis Dye, WR Xavier Gipson and WR T.J. Luther all took reps at kick returner. … Saleh said on the team's possibility of signing Pro Bowl RB Dalvin Cook: "Obviously you never want to say no to a great player. I'll leave [GM] Joe [Douglas] to that one."