|RUNNING BACKS (6)||Players|
|Jets Holdovers||Michael Carter (Round 4, 2021), Breece Hall (Round 2, 2022), FB Nick Bawden (FA, 2021), Zonovan Knight (UDFA, 2022)|
|Rookie Arrivals||Israel Abanikanda (Round 5, 2023), Travis Dye (UDFA, 2023)|
|Departures||Ty Johnson, James Robinson|
Cornerstones and Contributors
As a rookie last season, Breece Hall didn't just burst on the scene -- he exploded. But then, in the Week 7 game at Denver, Hall tore an ACL and missed the rest of the season. Still, he finished his first season out of Iowa State as the Jets leading rusher with 80 carries for 463 yards (5.8 a carry) and 4 rushing TDs, plus 19 receptions for 218 yards (11.5 per catch) and a TD.
Hall, 22, a second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, is working his way back and the Green & White hope to have him available to face visiting Buffalo in the season opener on Monday night, Sept. 11.
"I don't want to jinx it," HC Robert Saleh said. "The kid's already hitting over 22 [m.p.h.] on the GPS. He looks freaking good."
Though he's itching to get back on the field, Hall has been cautious about all the expectations.
"I'll be ready when I'll be ready," he said. "Obviously, I hope I'm ready [for Week 1], but you never know. I'm just taking it a week at a time and letting my knee do what it does. Everybody wants me to be ready for Week 1, but you have to come back when you feel ready. Until I feel like I'm ready, I'll just know."
Saleh, too, said the team would take a measured approach in training camp, which will begin in mid-July.
"I feel like he won't need to be limited in training camp even though we still will just to be conscientious and cautious with him," Saleh said. "But he looks awesome."
See the top images of Breece Hall, Michael Carter, Zonovan Knight and the 2023 Jets running backs.
Newcomers and Outgoers
The Jets were hit with a double-whammy in that game at Denver last season when Hall and OL Alijah Vera-Tucker each sustained season-ending injuries. The loss of AVT augured continued shuffling on the offensive line, a struggle that had an impact on the run game and the passing game.
Third-year running back Michael Carter chipped in with 402 yards on 114 carries (3.5 yards a carry), and undrafted free agent Zonovan "Bam" Knight came on to amass 300 yards on 48 carries (3.5 a carry). They each return for another season and will find a new running mate in the backfield -- Brooklyn's Israel "Izzy" Abanikanda, a rookie out of Pittsburgh.
As GM Joe Douglas said about Abanikanda after April's NFL Draft, when he was taken by the Jets in the fifth round: "Izzy is a home-run threat with size [5-11, 216], speed, and production. He has so much juice, and breakaway speed."
One of Abanikanda's claims to fame came as a junior in Pitt's game against Virginia Tech when he claimed the team's single-game rushing yards record (304 yards), which had been set by Tony Dorsett in 1975, by a single yard. He also tied the Panthers' single-game rushing touchdowns record (6) a record set in 1910.
"We were shocked, we thought he would go at least on Friday night," said Assistant GM Rex Hogan. "He's probably one of the top 100 players. When we were sitting there on Day 3, we thought he'd be gone. He's such a good fit for our run game and scheme, and what did at Pitt with speed when hits the second level, his speed is awesome."
During a late-June appearance on Good Morning Football, Jets TE Tyler Conklin was asked about the possibility of the Jets adding another dynamic talent in his former Vikings teammate RB Dalvin Cook. Conklin said, "That'd be a special backfield with Breece (Hall) and Dalvin and the rookie (Israel Abanikanda) and whatnot, Mike Carter. I don't know. That's a lot of running backs, but I think that'd be special, especially in this outside zone scheme."