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Rookie DLs Jermaine Johnson II and Micheal Clemons Give Jets an 'Edge'

The Two First-Year Players Are ‘Making the Most’ of Their Opportunities


Jets rookie defensive lineman Jermaine Johnson II made his presence felt in his return from an ankle injury, sacking Pro Bowl QB Josh Allen in the fourth quarter of their 20-17 victory over the Bills in Week 9.

But he isn't satisfied with one highlight-reel worth play. Every snap Johnson wants to continue to be a factor, starting again with New England at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.

"I have been making the most out of my opportunities," Johnson said. "We rotate a ton, and I love that because we have a lot of great guys. But when I'm on the field, I make it a point to myself that I have to be felt. I can't be a non-factor. When I'm on the field, that's something I tell myself."

The No. 26 selection in April's NFL Draft, Johnson – who missed three weeks with an ankle injury – has been an instant contributor. Johnson is tied for No. 5 among rookies with 2.5 sacks and has registered 3 tackles for loss and 3 QB hits.

And against Buffalo, the Florida State product appeared healthy as ever coming off the edge, containing Allen and dropping him for a 4-yard loss, a play which eventually led to a Bills punt. The Jets then marched 86 yards for the game-winning field goal.

"I popped outside of the guy that was trying to pin me and then I saw Josh [Allen] try to hide the ball and saw an opportunity," Johnson said. "I paced so he couldn't cut back on me, and I knew he wasn't going to beat me to the sideline."

See the top photos from Thursday's practice leading up to the road game against New England.

Johnson has steadily improved in part because of his relationship with fellow rookie DL Micheal Clemons.

Clemons has been equally as impressive ranking fourth highest on PFF run defense grade among all edges in the NFL (83.1). The only players with higher grades are Pro Bowlers Maxx Crosby (Las Vegas) and Nick Bosa (San Francisco), and former first-round pick Montez Sweat (Washington).

"I would say just say my timing is speeding up and the mental part like the process of going out there before the snap of the ball is getting better," Clemons said.

Clemons, a fourth-round selection in April's NFL Draft, has registered 2 tackles for loss, 3 QB hits and blocked a punt that S Will Parks ran back for a score in the Jets win versus the Packers.

Against New England in Week 8, Clemons wrapped up Mac Jones as he stepped up in the pocket, for his first career sack.

"My mechanics just have been so much faster. I have really improved there," Clemons said. "Everything is so much faster here and so I have had to speed it all up."

Johnson and Clemons have pushed each other, building toward a bright future for the Jets D-Line.

"We hold each other accountable," Clemons said. "We text each other before we show up to meetings. When we are out there rushing, just across the board we hold each other accountable to get better. That's my boy. We help each other every step of the way in training together. We came here together, and we believe in each other."

Johnson added: "We are not selfish. We cheer for each other. We want each other to win, and we celebrate each other's success as if it were our own. To be blessed with not just rookies like that, but a team, for the most part, that is pretty awesome."

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