The NY Jets’ offense was the star of the show during Tuesday’s training camp practice.
The NY Jets are well into training camp at this point and now sit less than three weeks away from the start of the 2020 season.
Practices mean more, injuries are more important, and the team is gearing up for what promises to be a unique season in many ways.
On Tuesday, the Jets returned to the practice field after a walkthrough on Monday. And for the first time in a few days, it was the offense — not the defense — that shined.
From receivers making plays to a much-improved performance from the offensive line, the offense got the better of their counterparts on Tuesday. And for a Jets offense that finished dead last in 2019, that’s certainly a promising sign.
Of course, as with any day of practice, there were a few injury updates. Outside linebacker Tarell Basham left early with an ankle injury while undrafted wide receiver Lawrence Cager — more on him later — exited with a knee injury.
Moreover, head coach Adam Gase said that he expects injured wideout Breshad Perriman to return to practice on Saturday. At the same time, there is no current timetable for Denzel Mims.
The Jets are beat up, but so too is the rest of the NFL as the league copes with the effects of this unorthodox offseason. Still, there were a number of standouts from Tuesday’s practice as well.
Let’s take a look at the three biggest takeaways from the Jets’ most recent practice.
Next: 3. Offensive line leads the way
3. The NY Jets’ offensive line leads the way
There were always going to be concerns about the Jets’ offensive line going into 2020. After a disastrous 2019 campaign, general manager Joe Douglas overhauled the unit in the offseason through both free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft.
But while the changes were evident, the unit still faced an uphill battle heading into the year.
Establishing chemistry is always a tricky yet necessary thing for any offensive line. Typically, teams will have an entire offseason including minicamp, OTAs, and a preseason to build a rapport with one another before the regular season starts.
But not this year.
And as a result, many expected the offensive line to show some cracks early on as the worked to establish that chemistry. While that’s remained mostly true to this point, their lack of experience with one another didn’t exactly show on Tuesday.
The Jets’ offensive line got the better of the defense opening up running lanes for the likes of Le’Veon Bell, Frank Gore, and even La’Mical Perine all day. Bell, in particular, had himself another strong practice looking to make good on his pre-season promise.
First-round pick Mekhi Becton was perhaps the most impressive, especially when it came to paving the way for his running backs.
Huge hole opened by Mekhi Becton springs Bell for big gain. Other offensive linemen mugged Becton after that one.
Next play Darnold hits Hogan on out route for another first #Jets
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) August 25, 2020
The Jets will look to see more of this from an offensive line unit that has been expectedly shaky throughout the start of training camp.
But more practices like this will go a long way towards providing optimism for the regular season.
Next: 2. Blessuan Austin continues to impress
2. Blessuan Austin solidifying a starting role with the NY Jets
Blessuan Austin came into the summer looking to earn the trust of the Jets’ coaching staff again after his untimely benching at the end of last year.
The 2019 sixth-round pick made a strong first impression when thrust into action in the middle of the season starting six games down the stretch and looking like a potential building block of the future on defense.
But given his injury history and his late-season hiccup, the Jets weren’t sold on Austin as a long-term starter. The team brought in the likes of Pierre Desir, Quincy Wilson, and Bryce Hall to provide competition for the starting cornerback jobs.
However, it’s been Austin who has shined the most thus far.
With Desir out, Austin has been operating as the Jets’ No. 1 cornerback and it seems as though he’s already secured a starting role in the defense. That was the sentiment shared by Connor Hughes of The Athletic who commented on Austin’s strong summer.
Bless Austin is having a really good camp. Think that other job outside Desir is his
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) August 25, 2020
Austin tallied a few more pass breakups on Tuesday and popped Jamison Crowder hard on a catch over the middle. Through the first couple of weeks of camp, few have shined as bright as Austin.
It should also be noted that Wilson took over for Arthur Maulet on the first-team defense on Tuesday. The former top-50 draft pick has been another star of camp and he looks to be securing a role on defense as well.
Even when Desir returns, expect Austin to remain in the starting lineup.
Next: 1. Multiple wide receivers step up
1. Multiple NY Jets wide receivers step up
The Jets’ receiving corps has taken quite the hit since training camp opened. Denzel Mims remains sidelined with a hamstring issue, Breshad Perriman has been nursing a knee injury, and Vyncint Smith is set to miss the first few weeks of the season after undergoing surgery earlier in the month.
An already-thin wide receiver depth chart has been stripped bare as a result. But on Tuesday, the team saw more production from the position than they’ve seen all summer.
Perhaps the biggest standout was undrafted wideout Lawrence Cager who once again made quite the impression. The highlight of Cager’s day was a spectacular end-zone grab over undrafted cornerback Javelin Guidry where he skied above his fellow rookie and muscled the ball away from him.
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Cager has been the Jets’ best red-zone threat so far in camp — something that shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Unfortunately, he limped off the field at the very end of practice and will be evaluated for an apparent knee injury.
Here’s to hoping that Cager returns as soon as possible because he was making a strong case for a roster spot prior to his injury.
Elsewhere, veteran Chris Hogan worked exclusively with the first-team offense on Tuesday for the first time since being signed. The 32-year-old has steadily shown signs of improvement and he had another excellent outing on Tuesday.
The Jets are finally seeing some signs of progress from their inexperienced receiving corps. And the only downer on the day was Cager’s untimely injury.
For his and the team’s sake, let’s just hope it’s not serious.