The season past was a year of NFL growth for Jets rookie wide receiver Denzel Mims.
Mims learned a little more about coping with an injury — two injuries, actually, as his double hamstring strains kept him out of all of training camp and then, after a short return to practice, for the first six games of the season.
"Mentally, it helped me out a lot," he told Olivia Landis of newyorkjets.com. "It showed me how not to get down when injuries occur, always stay positive. The first time I had my injury, I was down a little bit. Then the second time it really took a lot out of me and I was down for quite a bit.
"But it matured me even more because I know that was part of the game and all I had to do was get healthy and do whatever I can to stay healthy. Then physically, it showed me where I needed to improve at in areas of my body and just what I need to focus on in the future."
Mims also learned to cope with one drought that no pro wideout wants to go through: a season with no touchdowns.
"It'd be lovely to make a touchdown. I haven't had one all year," he explained of his thought process before playing at New England in the season finale. "I don't complain about it, I just try to do my part. Hopefully, I can make a touchdown and help the team win. I just want to do everything I can right."
See the Top Photos of Denzel Mims During the 2020 Season
But while Mims went TD-less, he didn't go scoreless — he grabbed a Sam Darnold two-point conversion pass against the Raiders.
And to dwell on these down times would do an injustice to Mims' season. When he got on the field, he put up some receiving numbers that showed exactly why the Jets drafted him in the second round, 59th overall, last April.
In particular there was his five-game stretch, from the Kansas City game through Las Vegas, when he hung six 20-yards-plus receptions on the board.
"I wanted to make a big impact for our offense. I wanted to be that go-to guy," he said, "but me having those injuries kind of set that back a little bit. I really didn't get the chance to show them what I could do at practice. It happened late, at midseason, but I showed what I can do. I just tried to do everything I can to show I was good as a player and that I could do everything right.
That blitz of chunk-play production put Mims in a small class of rookies in franchise history. He became only the fourth Jets rookie receiver to record a five-game streak with at least one 20-plus reception in each game. The short list:
|Wesley Walker||1977||Gms 2-6||12|
|Johnny "Lam" Jones||1980||Gms 10-14||8|
|Robby Anderson||2016||Gms 10-14||7|
|Denzel Mims||2020||Gms 8-12||6|
That stretch of games was the centerpiece to Mims' 23-catch, 357-yard season at 15.5 yards per pop. Not huge numbers but a definite hint of what he can do for the Jets' offense in the years to come. And listening to him speak, it's clear that while he likes personal production, the most important considerations for him are doing things right and helping his team win.
"Most definitely, when my name was called, I felt like I showed what I can do, especially in the blocking game," he said. "I was never selfish about getting the ball because I just want to win, I just wanted to do everything I can so we could get a win, whether it's catching passes or it's blocking or it's just running someone off so another player could get open.
"I just tried to do everything I could."