The clock is ticking. In three weeks, the Jets will line up across from the Buffalo Bills in western New York to kick off the 2020 N.F.L. regular season.
"Time is kind of our enemy and we have to do everything we can to get ourselves ready," Coach Adam Gase said after Saturday's workout.
The NFL offseason is typically formulaic as players work out at team facilities from April to June and then have a five-week break before the start of camp. But the COVID-19 pandemic forced clubs into a virtual offseason and left many players scrambling to stay in prime physical condition.
"Some guys had to build their own gyms in their garages, some guys had to run around their neighborhood just to stay in shape," Gase said. "It's an unusual year as far as how guys can stay in shape. Some guys were in better shape than others, and at the end of the day, nothing replaces this environment because of the competition. You're fighting for a job, so everything you do is extremely important. When you get out here and you talk about anxiety, it's going through the roof for 22-, 23-, 24-year-old guys. That's real and everybody has to get in shape as fast as possible."
Before the team's morning workout, the Green & White got some good news as ILB Avery Williamson (PUP), and TEs Ryan Griffin (PUP) and Daniel Brown (NFI) were all activated to the active roster. They participated in individual drills but were held out of team activities.
"We're going to take it as fast as we can, but at the same time [have to] be smart," Gase said. "It makes no sense, but we're trying to be smart with this. When we bring guys back, we want to make sure they are there for the duration."
And that will be the case with both nickel cornerback Brian Poole and rookie wideout Denzel Mims. Poole, who re-signed in the offseason, has missed a handful of practices after he became dehydrated last weekend.
"It just kind of makes us go back and re-evaluate how he even got to that point," Gase said of Poole. "That's why we're being cautious with it. When he gets back out there, we want him to be able to be out there for the entire practice. We don't want to keep going through this cycle, so we want to make sure we get it right."
See the Best Photos from the Seventh Practice at Training Camp
Mims, who has yet to practice because of a hamstring ailment, continues to miss valuable time. He is often spotted at One Jets Drive with WR coach Shawn Jefferson, continuing to get mental reps while the team goes through the paces.
"Hopefully we can get him back sooner than later," Gase said. "I don't want to put a prediction on a soft-tissue injury because all it takes is he's running one day and he cuts and it doesn't feel right and it could set you back a couple of days. I don't want to jinx it."
Quarterback Sam Darnold, who ended his day with a short scoring toss to WR Jamison Crowder, was intercepted early in the session. Darnold targeted Breshad Perriman but was victimized by a great read from second-year CB Bless Austin. DB coach Dennard Wilson provided fabulous insight on the Austin takeaway when prompted by NFL Network's Kim Jones.
"They either want to push the ball into the end zone or they want to check out down to the running backs," Wilson said of the situation. "When you are in the high red zone and it's first down, you have to think double moves and you have to think about shots. Coming out [Austin] knows that he's not in a run front, so I'm going to play pass first. The second thing they did was align the tight end out at 1, which teams normally don't do, to create space. So they created space for No. 2 to run what we call the big-box fade and that's a fade from a slot receiver. Bless understood how he was about to get attacked and he understood where his post safety was and where his help was."
WR-KR Braxton Berrios returned to action after missing a couple of days for personal reasons. …. Players who did not practice Saturday: ILB James Burgess (lower back), OL Cameron Clark (shoulder), CB Pierre Desir (hamstring), S Matthias Farley (hamstring) TE Bronson Kaufusi (hamstring) OL Conor McDermott (knee), WR Denzel Mims (hamstring), John Franklin-Myers (groin), CB Brian Poole (dehydration), WR Vyncint Smith (core), DL Jordan Willis (knee), and DL Jabari Zuniga (quad). … RB Josh Adams (hamstring) and LB Patrick Onwuasor (knee) left practice early. The latter went down hard when in pursuit of a ball carrier, transitioning from lateral steps to vertical strides. Onwuasor was able to walk off the field after being attended to by trainers. … Undrafted rookie WR Lawrence Cager had his best practice, reeling in two scoring tosses from QB Mike White – one was a fade with rookie S Ashtyn Davis draped over him and the other came in the back of the opposite end zone to finish practice. "He's a quick study, very intelligent," Coach Adam Gase said of Cager. "Obviously a very big body, smooth runner, he really tries to be a detailed route runner, he tries to do the little things right when we're talking about certain routes vs. certain techniques. He just has to keep playing. When he gets opportunities like he did today and he makes those plays, it's encouraging for us to see because it's hard to find guys who are that big who run as smooth as he does and is as sharp as he is. He's a guy who came in here with a very big chip on his shoulder and he wants to prove a lot of people wrong." … Kaufusi officially switched from DL to TE before camp. Gase said "he killed us on scout team last year."… Darnold connected with TE Chris Herndon for a beautiful score in the back right side of the end zone after Herndon got a step on LB Blake Cashman. … Rookie signal-caller James Morgan showed off his arm on a pass to WR Jehu Chesson, zipping the ball into a tight window in the corner of the end zone.