The NY Jets returned to practice on Tuesday after a day off, and rookie defensive end Will McDonald will be taking the field with them. The team's first-round pick suffered a leg injury in the Jets' first training camp practice on Thursday and remained sidelined.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh told reporters that McDonald's injury was simply a contusion and that there wasn't any long-term concern. Still, every practice rep is valuable for a rookie, especially one trying to carve out a role on defense.
In the end, McDonald was only sidelined for three practices (four days) before returning on Tuesday. That's great news for the Jets, who want to get a closer look at their first-round pick.
McDonald was spotted warming up with the team Tuesday morning. This is also notable because Tuesday marks the first padded practice of the summer for the Jets. McDonald will get thrown right into the fire on his first day back.
The NY Jets have high hopes for Will McDonald
The Jets raised some eyebrows when they selected McDonald with the 15th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. McDonald was seen by many as a fringe first-round prospect, and the Jets didn't exactly have a need for more pass rushers.
Still, McDonald's burst and athleticism endeared him to the Jets' coaching staff, and the team clearly has big plans for the former Iowa State standout.
While McDonald might play more of a part-time role as a rookie, the hope and expectation is that he will eventually take on a more three-down role. That could come as soon as 2024, depending on his progress and the status of other players on the roster.
For now, McDonald is expected to slot into a pass-rush specialist role as a rookie. He will essentially fill the role that Bryce Huff occupied (and excelled in) last season.
The Jets are excited to see what McDonald can do on the field this year. His return to practice after just a few days missed is a welcome one.