Unusual. Unique. Unprecedented.
The New York Jets' 2020 training camp was all that and then some -- from the daily questionnaires to the COVID-19 testing tents to the GPS trackers to the black drapes in hallways to separate Tiers to the to-go lunches to the masks on the practice field to the virtual meetings. Despite a testing-irregularity scare that forced a canceled walk-through and a number of injuries at multiple positions along the way, Head Coach Adam Gase and the Green & White handled adversity well this summer
"I think everybody did a great job of rolling with the punches," Gase told reporters Thursday. "Some of these protocols, they changed [and] they evolved over camp."
With a camp roster limit set at 80, Gase elected to go the virtual meeting route to work through the unknowns of a highly contagious virus. The Jets took over a hotel, The Archer, that literally is steps away from the facility to cut down on travel times.
"I felt like it was a good set-up, we had with The Archer, being able to buy out that whole building and working from that area to where there wasn't a whole bunch of travel time there," he said. "We kind of have everything set-up for when we do start the season, our rooms are all built where we can hold a certain amount of people. That's something we had been working on for a while. When you have training camp, you have 80. Now all of a sudden you drop 11 guys off the roster and it changes to now you have fewer people and the rooms work out better. We have a better set-up when you go to 69 compared to 80."
The Green & White have to reduce the roster to 53 on Saturday and then the personnel staff will scan the waiver wire before the team is permitted to construct a 16-player practice squad. By Monday, the entire organization will shift its focus to Week 1 and the Buffalo Bills. Accountability will continue to be emphasized throughout the season as each individual will be required to follow the proper protocols outside of One Jets Drive.
"You're hoping guys do right," Gase said. "They understand the situation we're in. As a team, they know it just takes one guy, one poor decision, and all of the sudden it can affect a lot more people. There has to be trust there. We have to commit as a team to do the right things."
The Jets had a positive vibe throughout camp and Gase praised his players for their ability to stay focused on the task at hand. Veteran RB Le'Veon Bell talked Thursday about the determined approach his backfield teammate, future Hall of Famer Frank Gore, and how he helps set the tone.
"I just watch his preparation every day," Bell said of Gore. "I get here at 7 a.m. and I pick up my chip and every day I get here, his chip is already gone. He's already here. I don't know what time he gets here. And when he gets here, he's already prepped and he's already ready for practice and we've got two-and-a-half hours until practice."
See the Top Photos from Thursday's Practice at Training Camp
Quarterback Sam Darnold, who is set to start his third consecutive regular-season opener, threw to different targets throughout camp as Vyncint Smith, Breshad Perriman, Jeff Smith, Denzel Mims, Braxton Berrios and Chris Hogan all missed time.
"I feel like he's done a good job with whoever has been in there," Gase said of Darnold. "I'm sure he's gotten frustrated, but he doesn't show it. With whoever is in there, he's trying to create some chemistry with some of these guys."
With no preseason games this summer throughout the NFL, plus a smaller roster, the Jets had fewer team practice reps than in previous years. They periodically had to dial back things because of injuries, but things are about to ramp up next week.
"I think every team is thinking, man this is going to be cool, we're going to play somebody else," Gase said. "We're just not going to see our own teammates — we're not going against them. We're going against a different defense, a different offense, a different special teams. Now all of the sudden, here comes the chess-game part of it."
DT Quinnen Williams said: "Now that everybody on the team put in the hard work this offseason, we get to go showcase it now. I'm excited. We are very excited."
Although camp has ended and the Jets inch even closer to Buffalo, the unknown remains.
"It will be interesting to see how all this works out. This is unchartered waters for us."
Players who did not practice Thursday: OLB Tarell Basham (ankle), OL Cameron Clark (knee), T Chuma Edoga (non-COVID illness), G Alex Lewis (shoulder), S Marcus Maye (calf), S Bradley McDougald (personal), LB Patrick Onwuasor (knee), RB La'Mical Perine (ankle), WR Breshad Perriman(knee), WR Jeff Smith (shoulder), WR Vyncint Smith (core) and DL Jabari Zuniga (quad). … QB Sam Darnold ripped a ball between multiple defenders to WR Josh Malone for a long catch and run. … The two later connected for a score where Malone tip-toed the back of the end zone. Malone, however, dropped a ball in the corner of the end zone with S Matthias Farley in coverage. … CB Quincy Wilson, who had a pair of PDs,** broke up aMike Whitepass intended for WRLawrence Cager. … DLHenry Andersonhad a would-be sack on Darnold. … KSam Ficken** made 3-of-4 field goal attempts.