FLORHAM PARK — The New York Jets were back in practice Wednesday afternoon with plenty of storylines following them around over the last week.
That’s what happens when your recently acquired quarterback gets hurt lifting weights during warmups.
Aaron Rodgers may have been a limited participant on the practice field, but there were several key takeaways in what a highly competitive and spirited practice at 1 Jets Drive.
Will McDonald’s athleticism shows out
Many analysts felt the Jets reached for Will McDonald when they took him with the 15th overall selection. Wednesday afternoon showed why the team was certainly fair with their evaluations.
Mcdonald’s athleticism and bend were apparent in defensive line drills while competing heavily with Jermaine Johnson. McDonald used his skills to actually beat Johnson multiple times that got the defensive staff fired up.
There’s still a long way to go before the start of the season but McDonald has certainly impressed through the early stages of his NFL career.
Jeremy Ruckert and Garrett Wilson stand out
Everyone knows about the skillset of reigning offensive rookie of the year Garrett Wilson. What they may not know is that an underrated part of the Jets offense stepped up in a big way Wednesday afternoon.
Ruckert, the third round pick from Wilson’s class caught everything that was thrown his way and scored multiple times during practice. He’s been a major bright spot during OTAs over the last few weeks and could see some hefty playing time over other tight ends on the roster.
To his credit, Wilson also made some phenomenal catches both in team drills and in the red zone. While most of his catches came courtesy of Zach Wilson, the top wideout was seen conversing with Aaron Rodgers on the sideline. Clearly, he’s going to be the top receiver the Jets have this year and in the future.
Zach Wilson struggles
For all the improvement he has shown over the last two weeks, Zach Wilson did not have a very good day at practice Wednesday. He overthrew both Ruckert and Wilson on throws starting quarterbacks should make and seemed far more unsure of where he was supposed to go with the football.
It’s fair to remind everyone that these are practices and not every day will be a good day for quarterbacks. However, Wednesday’s Wilson looked more like the 2022 version that was benched as opposed to the one that had seemingly turned a corner this offseason.
Aaron Rodgers was a limited participant in practice Wednesday while he nurses a calf injury he suffered last week. That doesn’t mean he was stationary though.
The four-time NFL MVP worked primarily on the bike while also taking part in some long-toss throwing drills. Rodgers would throw the ball 50-60 yards downfield to a member of the Jets training staff which drew impressive remarks from many around him.
New York is bringing in a new offense this season but having Rodgers back healthy will be an important piece to the offseason plan for the Jets coaching staff.
Secondary locks down in the red-zone
The defense won the day throughout Wednesday’s practice but none more so than during seven-on-sevens in the red zone. The starting offense did not score a passing touchdown during the length of the period while top receivers were getting clamped by Sauce Gardner and DJ Reed.
Defensive coordinator said after practice that “In my 20 years in this league, I’ve never seen a group so committed to the process,” when talking about his secondary.
They certainly showed why they could be one of the more dominant units in football today.