The NY Jets have finally completed their first official practice of training camp.
NY Jets football is back folks!
The Jets officially kicked off their first actual practice of training camp as players, coaches, and media alike took the field at Florham Park for the first time in months.
And for at least a little, everything felt normal. Well, almost normal that is.
Apart from the COVID-19 precautions including screenings, masks, and everything in between, this was a typical August practice.
We’ve been starved for any sort of actual news coming out of training camp. Who’s making strong impressions? Which players are shining in the absence of pads? Who are the training-camp wonders who Jets fans will irrationally attach themselves to?
Training camp practices are a wonderful tradition and even in a world facing so much uncertainty right now, it’s nice to be able to return to some semblance of normal.
While we shouldn’t make any significant declarations after just one day of practice, there are still a few things we could take away from this initial scrimmage.
Let’s take a look at three takeaways from the Jets’ first official practice of the summer.
Next: 3. Cameron Clark playing guard
3. The NY Jets were playing Cameron Clark at guard
Aside from the absence of second-round pick Denzel Mims — more on that later — there weren’t very many surprises with the offensive alignment.
Free-agent addition George Fant worked with the first team at right tackle while the incumbent Chuma Edoga ran with the second team. But other than that, everything else was pretty straightforward.
With the exception of one player’s placement on the second team that could provide a glimpse into how the team feels about him.
Rookie fifth-round pick Cameron Clark worked with the second team, but was playing right guard instead of offensive tackle. Clark spent the entirety of his college career playing left tackle at Charlotte, but many analysts projected him as a guard at the next level.
And if this is an early indicator, it seems as though the Jets agree.
Clark and Josh Andrews were the second-team guards, Jonotthan Harrison spent time at center, while Conor McDermott and Edoga were at offensive tackle.
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Perhaps this is simply a case of the Jets wanting to get Clark on the field with the second-team offense. Or perhaps this is a sign of where they see him playing in the future.
Either way, Clark’s usage this summer should give fans a pretty good idea of where they should expect the Jets to develop him.
Next: 2. Blessuan Austin not a starter?
2. Blessuan Austin not playing with the NY Jets’ starters
When the first-team defense took the field, there were a couple of surprises. With Avery Williamson out, Neville Hewitt became the team’s MIKE linebacker, but it was James Burgess who saw time at the other linebacker spot.
But perhaps an even bigger surprise was who started opposite Pierre Desir at cornerback. It wasn’t the player who started six of the final seven games last season and looked like a potential building block of the future.
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Now, Desir would go down with a hamstring injury very early which forced Austin on to the first-team defense opposite Maulet. But it was clear from the start who the Jets saw as their presumptive starting duo.
Austin played well down the stretch, but was benched ahead of the team’s final game. The circumstances surrounding his benching are still a little uncertain, but it’s safe to say the coaching staff wanted to give him a wakeup call.
To his credit, Maulet also impressed down the stretch last season and he also knows the system having spent the majority of the year on the active roster.
Does this mean that Maulet will be the starter come Week 1? Not necessarily. But it is very clear that Austin isn’t being handed anything and that he might not even be the favorite for the No. 2 cornerback role.
With Desir out for a little while, expect both to run with the first-team unit. And perhaps whoever impresses more will remain there upon Desir’s return.
Next: 1. Hamstrings are a problem
1. The NY Jets suffered multiple injuries
We already alluded to this in the first two slides, but the Jets are already dealing with a number of injuries coming out of Friday’s practice. In particular, hamstrings have proved troublesome.
Second-round pick Denzel Mims was held out of practice while dealing with a hamstring injury and the same is true for veteran running back Frank Gore. Bronson Kaufusi also injured his hamstring while Desir was removed from practice after aggravating — you guessed it — his hamstring.
Four players, four hamstring injuries.
Aside from the numerous hamstring injuries, rookie fourth-round pick Jabari Zuniga sat out with a quad injury while backup running back Kenneth Dixon had a hip flexor issue.
Now, it’s unclear just how serious any of these injuries are. Head coach Adam Gase did sound most concerned about Mims’ injury, but Manish Mehta of the NY Daily News indicated that the injury isn’t serious and the team expects him back within a few days.
However, any time that Mims is forced to miss is a significant blow to both his development as a rookie and the potential of the offense.
In Mims’ place, Vyncint Smith stepped in with the first-team offense. And if Mims misses any regular-season time, that’s the alignment you could expect going forward.
Given the extended time off, it isn’t a surprise to see so many players dealing with hamstring injuries — and the Jets are hardly alone in that problem.
But these injuries are certainly worth monitoring over the next few days.