The injury bug has taken a bite out of the Jets early in training camp, especially at wide receiver.
Rookie wideout Denzel Mims has yet to practice because of a hamstring injury and Vyncint Smith is out 5-to-8 weeks after undergoing core surgery last week. Breshad Perriman has been impressive , but has missed the last two practices with a knee injury. The receivers, as a result, have been a revolving door around QB Sam Darnold.
"It hasn't been challenging so far," Darnold told the media after Tuesday's practice. "Obviously we want guys to stay healthy, but that's a credit to the guys that have been coming in and understanding the offense. It's been good. Those guys have been coming in, learning and understanding everything and doing their best to try and make an impact in practice. It's been going well. We want guys to stay healthy, but it's the next-man-up mentality that we always talk about. We're going to continue that."
Chris Hogan is one of the new wideouts. Hogan, whom Head Coach Adam Gase described as a quick study, signed Aug. 19 and is predominantly taking first-team reps. He made a nice one-handed grab over the middle Sunday on a ball from Darnold. Tuesday, Darnold connected with Hogan by the sideline on the first play in team periods.
"He's good," Darnold said. "He's clean in and out of his routes. He's understanding the offense well, so it's been good so far. … Off the field, we're spending as much time as we can together talking about routes and timing and all that. It's been good so far and hopefully we can just continue to build on the chemistry we have."
Undrafted rookie WR Lawrence Cager has come on strong of late. He had three touchdowns in a two-day span last weekend and continued to build on his performance Tuesday. Cager, 6-5, 200, plucked a ball away from fellow undrafted rookie CB Javelin Guidry near the sideline. Cager got up and flexed at the defense as the offense celebrated loudly.
"Cage is a big target," Darnold said. "He can go up and get the ball. Whenever you have a big dude like that who can go up and get it, it's good to see."
Cager, who went to Miami from 2015-18 before he transferred to Georgia this past season, left practice early with a knee injury. Gase added Cager is very smart and a smooth runner.
"He really tries to be a detailed route runner," Gase said Sunday. "He tries to do the little things right when we're talking about certain routes versus certain techniques. He's just got to keep playing. I think when he gets opportunities like he did today and he makes those plays, it's encouraging for us to see because it's hard to find guys that are that big that run as smooth as he does and are as sharp as he is."
The new receivers might be practicing well, but the Jets are still awaiting Mims' debut. Mims, 6-3, 207, has been working with wide receivers coaches Shawn Jefferson and Hines Ward throughout practice.
"He's really self-motivated," Darnold said of the second-round pick out of Baylor. "Most of the time I see him, I'm just joking around and having a good time. Denzel is really on top of it. He's just going to continue to learn the offense the way he has been. I know Hines and Shawn J are doing a great job of continuing to teach him. He's like a sponge right now, he's just soaking it all up and learning as much as he can."
See the Top Images of the Jets QB During His Third NFL Training Camp