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What Are Robert Saleh's Thoughts on the Jets' Initial 53-Man Roster?

HC Says Xavier Gipson Has ‘Dynamic Ability’ in Return Game, Chazz Surratt Has ‘Starter Capabilities’ 


Surprises on cutdown day around the NFL are a tale as old as time. One of the "surprises" this year, to many Jets fans, was that the team kept seven wide receivers including a pair of UDFAs in Xavier Gipson and Jason Brownlee.

"X has shown a dynamic ability in the return game," head coach Robert Saleh said. "He's a really good football player, he has great feel for space. In the pass game he has a long way to go, he's going to get better. The way he works and his mindset, you could tell he's going to be a really good football player in this league."

Gipson had four return touchdowns in three seasons at Stephen F. Austin including a pair of 80-plus yard scores in 2022. He showed his explosiveness this preseason with a 45-yard kick return and a 31-yard punt return. Saleh did not name the rookie as the team's starting returner but said Gipson will be in the mix with Mecole Hardman.

Brownlee, who started his college career at East Mississippi Community College before he transferred to Southern Miss, led the Green & White with 10 catches and 102 receiving yards in the preseason. He also had debatably the catch of training camp when he hauled in a pass along the sideline one-handed with a defender draped over him.

"He has an ability to make really tough, contested catches," Saleh said. "He didn't show much during the preseason, didn't get many opportunities, but in practice it seemed like once every other day he was coming down with an unbelievable catch that was heavily contested. Another young man who also has a long way to go from a special teams standpoint and all that stuff."

See the current Jets roster in photos leading up to the 2023 season.

In addition to the two UDFAs from this year, Irvin Charles, a 2022 UDFA out of Indiana (PA), made the team. Charles spent last season on the Jets practice squad.

"We were really excited about Irv last year," Saleh said. "The young man has worked his tail off and from a special teams standpoint, the sky is the limit with this young man. He is an absolute wolf on those units. … At the same time, really looking for him to take that next step on offense and he did, but there are more steps to follow for him."

The Green & White kept five linebackers, including Chazz Surratt, whom Saleh waxed poetic about on Hard Knocks after his interception against the Browns in the Hall of Fame game. Surratt, a 2021 third-round pick out of UNC, sustained a hamstring injury that game and missed a chunk of training camp. Drafted by the Vikings, Surratt signed with the Jets practice squad last September and appeared in one game.

"If he could just stay healthy, that's been kind of what's hampered him throughout the short part of his career," Saleh said. "He's got everything you want in a linebacker. He has speed, heavy hands, he's very smart, can play all three positions. He understands leverage, angles, coverage. He's gotten a lot better since he's gotten here. I think that room has a lot to do with it. His mindset, his intent, he's become kind of an ass on the football field. He has a chance to be pretty freakin' good. You could argue he has starter capabilities in him, he just has to stay healthy and continue to prove it."

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