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Jets' Rookie WR Garrett Wilson: 'I Want to Be Great'

Ohio State Product Has Been Compared to Young Stars Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase, Says He has a Long Way to Go


Two footballs occupy a temporary space on a shelf downstairs at the North Jersey home of Jets rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson.

"I kept both balls," Wilson said on Wednesday, referring to the two pigskins from his first two NFL touchdown receptions that helped the Jets rally to defeat Cleveland last Sunday. "Right now, nothing has been done, I haven't even been able to put a shower curtain up yet."

In his Week 2 performance -- 14 targets, 8 receptions, 102 yards, 2 TD receptions including the game-winner -- Wilson has given a glimpse of his capacity to be a rainmaker for the Jets for years to come. Then again, the present isn't bad either. 

"The coaches have a great plan for me," Wilson said. "If it involves zero catches or 100 catches, I'm ready to do either one.

"Just keep on proving to them that I am on that level, and I want to be great. I'm nowhere near that yet. I have to keep pushing."

The confidence, with a dash of humility, oozes from the Jets' second first -round draft pick in 2022, No. 10 overall, who was a star at Ohio State and has quickly emerged as a rookie to watch. In the same vein, TE Tyler Conklin, signed from Minnesota, and CB D.J. Reed said that Wilson's impressive early-season play reminds them of a couple of other young, stud WRs -- the Vikings' Justin Jefferson and the Bengals' Ja'Marr Chase, who comes to MetLife Stadium with the winless Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

"It's good to have the confidence of your teammates," Wilson said.

He added: "As soon as they got in the league, they made their impact. You saw how far the Bengals went last year [AFC champions] when they got on the right page with the quarterback. Watching [Jefferson and Chase] last year while I was in college, I knew that's what I wanted to do. That was my goal. That's what I planned on doing. But I was just seeing how things played out, waiting my turn and waiting for the opportunity to take advantage of."

Wilson had a modest debut in the Week 1 loss to Baltimore, catching 4 passes for 52 yards and took 41 snaps (49%) on offense, fewer than three other receivers (Tyler Conklin, Elijah Moore and Corey Davis).

"We know we have a lot of playmakers, dudes," Davis, whose 66-yard TD pass from QB Joe Flacco launched the Jets' comeback. "G [Wilson] and E [Moore], Brax [Braxton Berrios]. Each week you have to stay ready and do your job. The young guys, they'll figure it out. There are weeks, win, lose or draw, you have to put the last game behind you and focus on the next game."

Wilson lost a bit of that focus in the fourth quarter against the Browns. On a third-and-4 play with 7:54 left in the game and the Jets down by 7 points, Wilson dropped a pass from Flacco that would have been a first down. After another short series, the Browns went down the field, Nick Chubb ran in for a score, making it 30-17 with 1:54 to play.

"I went absolutely crazy on the sideline," Wilson said. "I didn't want my drop to be the reason we lost the game."

It wasn't. After the Davis TD stunned the fans into near-silence at FirstEnergy Stadium and Braden Mann's successful onside kick, Flacco confidently drove the Jets down the field. The winning drive culminated with a 15-yard slant to No. 17.

"He's got grit," head coach Robert Saleh said after the game. "He is a dynamic football player. We all know that. He is still trying to find his footing. I thought he did a really nice job. Obviously, he has a couple things that he needs to clean up, especially there in the fourth quarter, but again he showed resolve. He got that big touchdown at the end. He's going to be a stud for a long time."

With the Bengals coming to town reeling from two close losses, Wilson said he's eager to go to school by watching Chase, who lit up the league as a rookie last season with 81 receptions for 1,455 yards and an eye-popping 13 TD receptions.

"He's great at getting position and making a play on the ball," Wilson said. "I'm excited to pick up on some things from the sideline. When I'm watching DBs play, a lot of times those are the receivers that you see making plays on them. You want to take something from their game and see what they are using to get open. A lot of us run the same system, so you can get a better idea of how to run the route versus this look. It's a copycat league."

On Wednesday, Wilson said he was still wading through an avalanche of congratulatory text messages, more than 100, that kept his cellphone buzzing after what is being described as a breakout performance. But he, his coaches and his teammates know that it was one game in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league.

"You can never be satisfied," he said. "For me, that's what I want to do, that's what I expect to do. When I'm out on the field, I want to make plays, I wanna be involved and I want to help the team. That's always the goal and that won't change week to week. I'm not even close to being satisfied."

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