CB Brandin Echols Records an INT, DE Carl Lawson Disrupts and OL Alijah-Vera Tucker Earns Kudos by Ethan Greenberg & Eric Allen
Robert Saleh might have known something was around the corner. Moments after stepping off the practice field Thursday, the Jets' first-year head coach was asked multiple questions about unsigned rookie QB Zach Wilson.
"Zach's going to sign," Saleh told reporters. "When it happens is when it's going to happen."
It happened only a couple of hours after Saleh's daily briefing. Wilson signed his first NFL contract and was back at the facility after missing the team's first two summer workouts while his reps and the Jets hammered out the final financial details.
"This young man has a chance to do something around here that hasn't been done in a while and every rep matters for him," Saleh said.
Minus Wilson, the Jets had a good session under overcast skies in Florham Park. They proved to be good learners in the spring and that has transitioned to training camp.
"A lot of energy," Saleh said. "It's an impressive group because the retention that they've had from OTAs and the crispness from which they're operating. It was good, it was encouraging day."
But the news got even better in the afternoon. Wilson arrived and put pen to paper as business priorities shifted to football.
"When it gets down, it will be awesome to get him back here," Saleh said.
Despite being out of the mix for the first couple of days, Wilson stayed connected to the team through communications with third-year QB Mike White.
"I know he's had conversations with Mike in terms of install and all like that and there's been dialogue back and forth," Saleh said. "But he's in a good place He's a sharp kid, he's going through the process. This is first season too, so we'll be excited when he gets here and it will be good not to have to answer questions about him and his contract."
Echols' Makes a House Call
The first defensive takeaway of camp came courtesy of rookie CB Brandin Echols, a sixth-round pick from Kentucky. Making like a veteran, Echols jumped in front of a James Morgan pass intended up the sideline to Corey Davis. Not only did Echols get in position for the interception, he would have been off to the races to the end zone. Echols runs in the 4.3s, so nobody was going to get him from behind.
"I think that was more of a product of tremendous technique on the DB's part and overall structure of the defense of what was being asked of them," Saleh said. "Overall I thought it was a good day. I know the D-line was getting some push today, so it was a little bit muddy in there for those guys (QBs) to operate."
Jets' Investment in Young QBs
While acknowledging that the Jets were set to work out both Sean Mannion, who will have system familiarity after spending time with the Rams under Sean McVay ,and Josh Johnson, a well-traveled pro who spent some time in San Francisco last season, Saleh reiterated that both Mike White and James Morgan will continue to get long looks. After a play-action rep during a team period in practice No. 2, White got a chunk gainer down the field to Jamison Crowder.
"You invest in these young guys," Saleh said. "Tony Romo never gets found as an undrafted free agent unless you're willing to invest in them, Tom Brady, all these guys, unless you're always thinking to bring in a veteran just for the sake of making everybody feel good. It doesn't mean the veterans aren't useful because there are a lot of useful case. But at this point, with Mike White and James and the progress they've shown and the investment that we've made, give them a chance and let's see what we can get out of them. You never know what you might found."
Joint Practices with Packers and Eagles; Giants Could Be Next
On Aug. 18-19 in Wisconsin, the Jets will get some valuable work in with the Packers for a couple of days preceding their Aug. 21 preseason matchup at Lambeau Field. Then the following week, it will be different shades of green in Florham Park as the Jets and Eagles will practice Aug. 24-25 at One Jets Drive before wrapping up the preseason Aug. 27 at MetLife Stadium. Saleh is a huge fan of the practice sessions between teams and indicated the Jets and crosstown Giants could match up that way in 2022.
"I think they're fantastic especially when teams go about it and they're not looking to fight, they're looking to just get work in," Saleh said. "I think it's good work because you see different defenses, you see different offenses, you see a different special teams unit. You're going against different bodies, and to be honest with you I've always felt like you get more out of those joint practices than you do the actual preseason game. It's just different, it's a more controlled environment. You're not exposing yourself to be tackled of having to tackle. You can get a lot of work in where it's a little bit more structured in terms of situations. A lot more things can happen and you're getting a really good view of the players and they're also getting a shot to put their best foot forward to show what they can do on tape."
The left side of the Jets' offensive line is alright. Center Connor McGovern is a big fan of Alijah-Vera Tucker, the USC product who was taken No. 14 overall in the NFL Draft and will likely line up next to him at LG. "He's been really, really good mentally and that matches his physical ability. He's extremely quick, fast, twitchy, big body, long arms and he has great hip roll which not a lot of guys coming out of college have, that really explosive, loose hip roll, but he's got it. He's going to be a special player just like Bec (Mekhi Becton). The left side's young, but they're smart." ... CB Bryce Hall returned to the practice field following the birth of his child. ... DE Carl Lawson racked up a sack of QB James Morgan in a team period and immediately followed it up with a TFL... Michael Carter continues to flash his burst and got the offense going with an excellent cut-back run early in practice.