Jets OTA sightings: A first scare with Aaron Rodgers, then all smiles

Jets OTA sightings: A first scare with Aaron Rodgers, then all smiles

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — If it sounded like a dream, Aaron Rodgers jogging around the practice field in a Jets jersey, for Jets practice, things quickly came back to reality when he pulled his helmet, entered the building and cautiously returned for the rest of the day, just a spectator.

The Jets, they say, can’t have nice things. So Rodgers was there, an observer like everyone else, even before he could throw a pass for the first time in front of the assembled media during an OTA practice on Tuesday – and lots of media. Enough to surprise tight end CJ Uzomah when he arrived for his post-practice press conference, and even to distract Rodgers in the middle of answering a reporter’s question.

The excitement of Rodgers’ debut in front of the cameras died down, as most footage instead showed him standing on the sidelines with the Jets’ strength coach, or watching Zach Wilson and the quarterbacks perform drills. But everyone was still smiling after practice, including Rodgers, who continues to marvel at this new chapter in his storied career following his trade to the Packers on April 24.

“It’s been like a dream month so far,” Rodgers said.

Ultimately, Rodgers simply suffered a twisted calf, and he wasn’t particularly concerned about its short- or long-term impact on his ability to play. “I don’t think it’s too serious,” he said.

So while it looked like a disappointing day at Florham Park, it could have been much worse. Rodgers is still the Jets’ quarterback — so the team’s fans can stop pinching.

Here are some thoughts and observations from the Jets’ second OTA practice, and first with the media in attendance.


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Old Man Rodgers

Before practice, Jets coach Robert Saleh described Rodgers as an old man in a youngster’s body.

“Is that a compliment?” Rodgers asked.

It was. And Rodgers has had no trouble fitting in with a roster full of young players. He went to a Knicks game with Sauce Gardner – 16 years his junior – earlier this month. Rodgers recently left the training ground with Uzomah and discovered that his teammate had never watched MTV’s “Jersey Shore”, which flabbergasted him. Rodgers made sure to mention that early in his career he traveled to Las Vegas for one of DJ Pauly D.

“It’s on,” cornerback DJ Reed said. “There’s a great energy around the building…everyone is just happy, with a smile on their face.”

Rodgers said he feels rejuvenated being around the Jets building, although he would like to leave the hotel near the facility he currently lives in. And he acted like more than the Jets quarterback. He spoke up in meetings, brushed aside teammates in training to offer helpful advice and on Monday he even let the attack win for bad efforts. Uzomah said his message was, in so many words, “Gather your s—together.”

Rodgers said his main point on Monday was about attention to detail, especially with ball safety and finishing plays. He recounted how Packers running back Ryan Grant finished every run in practice to the end zone and when wide receiver Jordy Nelson saw that as a rookie, he started doing it too.

“You can’t just come in there and follow the moves, tick a box and focus so much on doing things the right way that you become a robot there,” Rodgers said. “Everything we do must have a purpose and an intention. And the attention to detail wasn’t good enough (Monday) with the fundamentals, finishing and ball safety.

Even after Rodgers was knocked out of practice, he still coached the quarterbacks when they worked on play action and was also spotted chatting with Uzomah about running.

Zach Wilson’s Day

When Rodgers came out, it propelled Wilson into the No. 1 quarterback spot. It was light practice overall — 7-on-7, no contact — but Wilson generally acquitted himself well. In total, he completed 12 of 14 passes, although one of the incomplete ones deflected off Garrett Wilson’s helmet and was nearly taken away.

He got over it quickly with a Jeremy Ruckert tight end laser, then hit Wilson with a nice deep pass to the left sideline, just past Reed, which Wilson caught while diving.

Reed explained how impressive that shot was: “It was a good ball from Zach. He threw a good ball,” Reed said. “I was asking Zach what the route was because he took an outside version, so I thought (Garrett) was going to do a fade. But he said (Garrett) was supposed to run a lean post but just took an outside out, so Zach put the ball inside. That’s why it was a great throw and a great catch.

Wilson followed that up with another fine shot down the middle of the field, into a narrow window, to wide receiver Irv Charles.

Obviously, it’s far too early to draw conclusions after watching Wilson once, in this setting, but there were at least some encouraging signs – and no turnovers.

Tim Boyle and Chris Streveler, the other quarterbacks, were less successful. Boyle threw an interception to sixth-round rookie linebacker Zaire Barnes, though that pass was deflected by Michael Carter. Streveler made some great throws on the field, but was also lucky to avoid being intercepted by undrafted rookie linebacker Claudin Cherelus during red zone drills. Cherelus dropped the pick and his teammates made him do push-ups as punishment.

Injuries and non-participants

During the 7-on-7 practice, Allen Lazard fell to the ground in pain and rolled away from the sideline. He then returned to training and later explained on Twitter just what happened.

Offensive tackle Mekhi Becton and running back Breece Hall have both been working on the side with coaches as they continue to recover from knee injuries from last year. Becton is closer to returning than Hall. Offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker (triceps) and Max Mitchell (illness) both practiced after missing the end of last season. Others who attended but did not practice included defensive ends John Franklin-Myers and Micheal Clemons, as well as Gardner and others.

Wide receiver Randall Cobb was among the veterans not in practice. Neither does defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, who is seeking a new contract.

The Jets and Williams – like Athleticism reported recently – aren’t particularly close to a new contract deal, so it’s unclear how long it will be until he shows up.

“I’m not worried at all,” Saleh said. “This thing will be done and he will be there.”

madness mekhi

Becton made waves over the weekend with critical comments about the Jets’ coaching staff in a Newsday article. He blamed Saleh and the coaches for putting him at the right tackle last year – against his wishes – and said he believed that was what caused him to suffer a kneecap injury at camp. training, ending his season before it started.

Saleh, when asked about the comments on Tuesday, chose to highlight all the hard work Becton has done – he’s lost a lot of weight – and how he’s been an active participant in the offseason program, which he wasn’t last year. .

“I think he’s probably in the best shape of his life,” Saleh said.

Saleh also said Becton’s desire to play left tackle won’t affect where the Jets ultimately decide to play him. They will simply face the top five offensive linemen.

The Jets traded for Clark in March, adding him as a replacement for Lamarcus Joyner at safety. The 28-year-old didn’t seem too upset about leaving the Ravens, saying he asked for a trade last year and Baltimore didn’t grant it.

“I was ready to get out of there,” Clark said.

For what? Clark acknowledged that Ravens’ first-round draft safety Kyle Hamilton last year had something to do with it, and there was also a financial element to it.

“Just the situation I was put in, the things that were said to me and the position I had in the team, I felt like I wasn’t respected,” Clark said. “So it was time for a change.”

Asked about it again, Clark said: “I was a starter in the team – I’m not going to go overboard, but as far as the contract talks, the money talks, there were things that were not respected.”

(Photo: Jonathan Jones/USA Today)

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