Leading up to the Jets’ preseason opener against the Giants, left guard Kelechi Osemele said the offensive line was not where the group needed to be and had a lot of work to do. The first-team offense played one drive Thursday night against the Giants and the offensive line yielded little to no pressure on quarterback Sam Darnold, who finished the night with a perfect passer rating.
“I think we did good setting the tone. We started fast, we finished a lot of blocks, got some guys on the ground, had some good energy,” Osemele said of a seven-play, 75-yard scoring march that ended on Jamison Crowder’s 3-yard TD reception. “It was fun, it was a good time. But I think moving forward, when things get more difficult in games with stunts and stuff, which we didn’t see a lot of, I think we had one or two, just being aware of that. That’ll come with communicating more together. That’s one area I think we could probably all improve on. But I feel pretty good having that be our first series, it was a really good start.”
The eighth-year veteran said the challenging part leading up to the regular season will be keeping the unit fresh and healthy while practicing what they’re going to see on gamedays. Left tackle Kelvin Beachum considered Thursday’s performance a “very small step,” but a good one nonetheless.
“From a communication standpoint, I think we did pretty well,” Beachum said. “There are still some little nuances that we have to continue to work on — pass protection, run fits, etc. It’s going to take time. But for the first time out, some positive steps.
“I think it’s really just fine-tuning technique and just executing even better for four quarters. It’s one thing to have one series, but we have to have eight series, 10 series. We have to find ways to execute.”
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Despite a light workload for the starters, perhaps the person most pleased with the group’s performance was Darnold.
“First and foremost, our O-line blocked their butts off,” the second-year signal-caller said. “The pocket, every single I dropped back, was super clean and I was even able to scoot up a couple times.
“It was fun out there that first drive and hopefully gave Jets fans a little taste of what this season is going to be like.”
Both Darnold and the rest of the unit still need to adjust to veteran center Ryan Kalil, who has yet to practice in green and white. Beachum said there’s no magical formula to building chemistry with the 34-year-old except for reps. While it helps Kalil has played for 12 seasons, he’s still learning a new system with new players around him, which is where the preseason comes into play.
“The preseason is the closest thing you’re going to get to a game, so that’s what makes it fun,” Osemele said. “You can go out there and finish guys and cut and put people on the ground, which you really shouldn’t do if you’re going to be a good teammate. You don’t to hurt anybody in practice, so these are the games where you get to have a lot of fun and get to put everything you’ve been working on out on display.”