The Jets began OTAs on Monday, but they will allow the media in for the first time on Thursday.
It will be our first glance at what the 2021 Jets will look like. General manager Joe Douglas has spent the past five months reshaping the organization. The team has a new head coach, a new quarterback and plenty of other new pieces.
OTAs are light practices with the players in shorts, no pads and no contact. Still, you can see what the early depth chart looks like and get a glimpse at the new guys. The media is permitted at three OTAs and the three minicamp practices over the next month.
Here are the five things we’re most curious to see:
Did you think we were going to start with the competition at kicker? Zach Wilson is the star attraction of these practices, as he will be when training camp starts at the end of July. We got a glimpse of the 21-year-old quarterback at rookie minicamp, but all we were permitted to see him do was play a glorified game of catch. These practices will go further. He will face the Jets’ defense. He’ll be working with the veteran receivers. He will be under the spotlight. Get used to it, kid.
If Wilson is the star of the show, Robert Saleh is his supporting actor. Since Saleh was hired in January, the buzzword around the Jets has been “energy” — as in how much Saleh brings to everything he does. Spring practices can get a bit lackadaisical as some days it gets hot and the players are not yet going full speed. We’ll see if Saleh can keep the Jets focused throughout.
Saleh’s initial imprint on the team should be visible during the OTAs and minicamp. Attendance has been high for the voluntary workouts and practices with more than 80 Jets on the field.
Douglas revamped this room through free agency and the draft. For the first time in years, it feels like the Jets have some depth at the position. I’m curious to see how they use everyone. Corey Davis is obviously the top dog after the Jets paid him $27 million in guaranteed money in free agency. But how does it fall after that? What does the new coaching staff think of Denzel Mims, last year’s second-round pick who struggled to stay on the field as a rookie? Does rookie Elijah Moore take snaps away from Jamison Crowder? How does Keelan Cole, another addition in free agency, fit in? We should get some of — but not all of— these answers during the open practices. The Jets have dealt with a lot of injuries at receiver in recent years, so the depth will be critical. It will be interesting to see how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together right now.
The Return of C.J. Mosley
We have not seen Mosley on the field since a loss to the Patriots on Oct. 21, 2019. How long ago was that? That was the night Sam Darnold saw ghosts. Mosley’s first season with the Jets ended after that night and after just two games played. Then, he opted out of last season due to COVID concerns. Mosley turns 29 next month and has not played a full game since 2018. The Jets gave him a five-year, $85 million contract in March 2019 and have gotten very little for it. Now, the Jets are running a 4-3 defense under Saleh and Mosley is two years older. It will be interesting to see if he looks like his old self.
Competition at Right Guard
The Jets don’t have a lot of positions up for grabs, but right guard feels like a critical one. First-round pick Alijah Vera-Tucker slides in at left guard, leaving a competition on the other side between incumbent Greg Van Roten, Alex Lewis, Dan Feeney and Cameron Clark. That competition will take place in training camp, but we’ll get our first look at the pecking order on the early depth chart.
The Jets hired former Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke for a game-management role, a source confirmed. Burke will give input on both sides of the ball.