After a rookie season where he was named a Pro Bowler, an All-Pro and the Defensive Rookie of the Year, Jets CB Sauce Gardner has his eyes set on more interceptions in Year 2.
Against the Giants in the preseason finale, the crosstown rivals tried to complete two deep passes with Gardner in coverage. HBO's Hard Knocks captured HC Robert Saleh telling the Cincinnati product teams will stop throwing at him once he picks the quarterbacks off.
"He's right," Gardner said. "I have to get more and I'm looking forward to the season. I'm looking forward to getting more opportunities like how the Giants gave me the opportunity and I have to make the most of it.
"Going up, attacking the ball. That's really it."
One of Gardner's two interceptions last season came against Bills QB Josh Allen in the Green & White's Week 9 victory at MetLife Stadium. Earlier that game, Allen and All-Pro WR Stefon Diggs connected on a 42-yard pitch-and-catch on their first play from scrimmage with Gardner in coverage. After that, Gardner and the Jets secondary tightened the screws as Diggs finished with 93 yards and did not score a touchdown.
"Both of them are two great players," Gardner said of Diggs and Allen. "I wouldn't say it's just Stefon Diggs because Josh Allen he's a great player individually especially the fact that he can extend plays. So it's not just defending one play, you have to defend the next play. [Allen] is a big guy, hard to bring down, has a big arm and of course having Stefon, he can just take it to the next level. They're a great duo. They're competitive and I'm looking forward to it."
"We're probably going to be the best duo in the league," Hall told reporters Saturday.
Monday will also be the first time Hall will be tackled in game action since he tore his ACL in Week 7 at Denver last season. The second-round pick in 2022 out of Iowa State was returned to practice Aug. 15 and did not play in the preseason.
"We have a plan," Saleh said about Hall's usage. "There's going to be constant communication because what the plan is can be more, can be less. We have an idea what we want to get done, he has an idea of what he'd like to accomplish, but at the same time, communication, constantly checking in to see where he's at both physically and mentally is going to be key."
Playing with Aaron Rodgers, Hall said, "you just want to be on your Ps and Qs because he can change stuff at any time to be that play to spring everything open and beat the coverage. If not, he's going to get you the ball and hope you can make a play."
See all the best photos of the Jets on the practice field during Week 1 in preparation for the Bills.
Hall (knee), LT Duane Brown (shoulder) and RT Mekhi Becton (knee) were all full participants in Saturday's practice after they were limited on Thursday and Friday. They're both officially listed as questionable as is Hall.
Monday will be the first time Becton, in his fourth season, will play in a regular-season game in front of Jets fans at MetLife Stadium. He was drafted in 2020 when there were no fans in the stands and missed each of the last two seasons with knee injuries.
"He's been working and I'm excited for him," Saleh said. "He's going to have some mistakes. It is what it is. He hasn't played football in two years, but he has worked hard to get to this point."