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WR Xavier Gipson Back 'Smarter and Stronger' Than as a Rookie

Jets' Returner Says 'Kicks Are Going to Be Crazy' Under New Rules


As undrafted free agent last season, Xavier Gipson toppled expectations by making an impact on special teams and, in a more limited capacity, on offense for the Jets.

With Year 2 for him on the horizon and Aaron Rodgers returning under center, Gipson plans to spend the rest of the offseason leading into training camp expanding his role on offense while getting comfortable on returns under the new kickoff rules.

"Everyone in the league is looking for that next step to take to get better and be better than they were last year," Gipson said. "After the season, my pops had a talk with me that if I am in the same spot I was last year, then you are in trouble. So, we got up this offseason and have gotten to work."

Gipson played in 17 games last season (3 starts) and recorded 21 receptions for 229 yards and 1 rushing touchdown. He tied for the NFL lead with a punt-return TD — his opening-night game-winner vs. Buffalo — and was fourth with a 23.2-yard kickoff-return average (min. 17 returns).

See photos of the Jets quarterbacks during the 2024 offseason program.

"I took a big leap this offseason," Gipson said. "My play speed got faster, and I got smarter and stronger. I know what to expect this year."

Rodgers added: "I think having S.J. (WRs coach Shawn Jefferson) in the room has been great for the young guys like Zay [Gipson] coming back in Year 2 and looking good."

Jefferson, 55, was the Jets' wide receivers coach (and assistant head coach) during the 2019-20 seasons. After that, he worked with the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers in similar positions. He played 12 seasons – mainly for San Diego and New England – and totaled 29 career TDs. Since his return, Jefferson has been an important mentor for Gipson.

"He is a great dude, and he is willing to teach us about life beyond football," Gipson said. "He was a coach and a player, so he certainly knows what he is talking about. I am willing to be a student and learn from him on and off the field."

While he continues to get a first-class education from Jefferson, Gipson has also spent the offseason working closely with ST coordinator Brant Boyer devising a strategy to maximize success under the NFL's new kickoff rules. Gipson expects his close work with Jefferson and Boyer to continue into training camp.

"I have never seen anything like it," Gipson said of the kickoff rules. "It reminds me of when I was a kid playing backyard football. But I am willing to learn the new kickoff rules because the new kicks are going to be crazy, trying to figure out what to do and I am willing to take on that task."

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