Aaron Rodgers and 3 other standouts from NY Jets first practice of 2024 OTAs

Aaron Rodgers is back and he's already lighting it up
Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The NY Jets officially hosted their first practice of the spring open to media members on Tuesday, as Aaron Rodgers and a host of other players returned to the gridiron to take part in voluntary OTAs.

While it's never wise to put too much stock in spring practices, this is the first opportunity for players to make an impression ahead of the upcoming season. And for football fans starved for content, this is as good as it's going to get in the month of May.

Rodgers was undoubtedly the focus of attention on Tuesday, as this was his first full practice in front of media members in nearly nine months. The four-time MVP wasted little time reminding everyone why he is one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, but he wasn't the only one to make a positive impact.

Let's take a look at four notable standouts from the Jets' first open-media OTA practice of the spring.

4. Xavier Gipson, WR, NY Jets

There will be an open competition for roster spots at the bottom of the Jets' wide receiver depth chart, and one player hoping to solidify his case is 2023 undrafted rookie Xavier Gipson.

Gipson provided Jets media members with the early highlight of the spring on Tuesday, streaking downfield to haul in a 40-yard bomb up the seam from Aaron Rodgers. The second-year receiver beat his man in coverage and burst past the safety for one of two Rodgers touchdown passes on the day.

Gipson managed to impress as an undrafted rookie last summer, earning a roster spot out of training camp and carving out a key role on special teams. The Jets remain high on his versatility and special-teams impact.

Don't overlook Xavier Gipson in a new-look Jets wide receiver corps.

3. Eric Watts, DL, NY Jets

The Jets signed a number of high-profile undrafted defensive linemen following the draft, but while the likes of Leonard Taylor III and Braiden McGregor have received more hype, Eric Watts might have the best chance to make the 53-man roster out of all of them.

Watts was given a team-high $245,000 in guarantees — a strong indication that the Jets believe he can make the roster out of training camp. He wasted little time making a positive impact.

Watts was matched up with Jets first-round pick Olu Fashanu on Tuesday working with the second-team defense, and he beat the rookie Penn State product for a near-sack of Tyrod Taylor.

Watts is a tweener defensive lineman in the mold of someone like John Franklin-Myers. He's someone Jets fans should keep a close eye on throughout the summer.

2. Tyron Smith, OT, NY Jets

The Jets revamped their offensive line this offseason, with their most notable new addition coming in the form of future Hall of Fame left tackle Tyron Smith. The question with Smith remains his health, but it's clear that he's still one of the best left tackles in football when on the field.

He continued to prove that on Tuesday, making a very strong first impression with the first-team offensive line. The Atheltic's Zack Rosenblatt reported that Smith was "just stonewalling dudes in team drills."

Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers was quick to praise Smith's conditioning after practice, calling the eight-time Pro Bowler a "chiseled specimen."

The Jets will be cautious with Smith's health, but he has a chance to be one of the best players on the roster if he stays on the field. He hasn't lost a step.

1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, NY Jets

Speaking of not losing a step, Aaron Rodgers looked the part on Tuesday. Yes, the Jets didn't do anything beyond basic team and 7-on-7 drills. No, the players aren't practicing in pads yet. But after decades of horrific quarterback play, it's evident that Rodgers is just different.

The future Hall of Famer finished 5-of-5 in 7-on-7 drills and 8-of-10 for two touchdowns in team drills. Rodgers was "surgical" in his delivery, drawing praise from his teammates and media members in attendance.

It's not just the box score numbers, either. Rodgers provides a sense of excitement and home to an organization that has been starved of either for years. He elevates those around him with his presence alone.

Rodgers has maintained his commitment to the Jets when given a microphone, and his actions continue to support his words. He's the real deal — the reason the Jets have Super Bowl aspirations entering the 2024 season.