Some NFL teams have canceled their minicamps this spring but first-year head coach Robert Saleh explained that's not the direction he's looking to go in as the Jets hold their mandatory full-squad minicamp this week, then head into the dark period on the calendar before training camp begins. However, he does allow for some tweaking of Thursday's final-day schedule.
"I feel like the guys have had a really good offseason of work," Saleh told Jets reporters via Zoom on Tuesday morning. "That third day, I just felt like it would be good for organizational meetings and to just cross some T's and dot some I's. So it's not completely off, but we'll just do some in-house stuff and not touch the practice field."
But Saleh is a big proponent of the new direction most teams are heading with their athletic care and performance staffs.
"The way people practice and train, with science and GPS numbers and tracking data and all the different things that have been made available to us, not only as a coaching staff but as a performance staff, have really helped with regards to how we train," he said. "We're mindful of making sure that we're always trying to peak and reach different peak levels. We don't want to train them to be soft. We want to train them to continue to build and get better with regards to their load."
This may be a kinder, gentler NFL, but only by a little, and with a definite balancing act so that players reduce the risk of injury and increase their ability to grow.
"Even if we wanted to be the old-school, two-a-day, double padded practices, you just can't, per league rules," Saleh said. "But I do believe that you do need pads on, you do have to be able to hit and run into one another on a day-to-day basis.
"That doesn't mean that you grind a guy, because I still think you've got to be smart with how you prepare these guys to be at their absolute best on Sundays. And if you're driving them into the dirt, they're just not going to be as efficient on gamedays. So there's a lot of balance there, that nudge to make sure you're always building that callus, but at the same time you want to be very mindful of their well-being and make sure they've got longevity through this thing."
One aspect of the collective attitude of his players, both the returnees and the new additions, that Saleh isn't worried about is their mental approach. He again expressed his admiration for how last year's Jets bounced back from their string of tough losses to beat the Rams in Los Angeles and the Browns in home. Two playoff opponents, two victories, in a span of two Sundays.
"That resolve showed itself immediately," he said. "They have tremendous drive, they have tremendous want-to, and they've been putting it out on the field every single day. As a coach, you want to give them all the information you can. You just want these young men to succeed, because they're doing it the right way, they're made of the right stuff. And they've just been a pleasure to work with."
And Saleh said he can't wait for adversity to strike once training camp and the regular season arrives. Really.
"They've got a lot of energy, a lot of positivity to 'em. There's a lot of juice in the building," he said. "The spring's been fantastic and we're really looking forward to training camp. And I really am, I'm excited to see adversity, how we handle it, so we can see where we're at. That's where character rebuilds itself.
"We're going to have some adverse moments right from the get. How we handle them is going to make or break this football team."
But first for Saleh and the 2021 Jets, it's minicamp.