As the New York Jets left the field after the first round of joint practices with the Atlanta Falcons, fans and reporters were left with plenty to talk about. For one, the 2022 draft class of rookies absolutely rocked Florham Park.
Not one, not two, but four April selections stole the show for Gang Green on Friday, August 19 — and the names shouldn’t necessarily surprise you.
Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Breece Hall, Garrett Wilson and Jermaine Johnson II. All four of general manager Joe Douglas’ top picks this spring had huge moments against NFL competition this afternoon — and we’re talking highlight-reel plays.
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Breece the Beast Goes Viral
The number one clip from joint practice that’s currently circulating social media is probably Hall’s home-run gainer that went for 75 yards and a touchdown.
The talented ball carrier hit an outside hole and then used a “one-cut” juke to beat the only defender in his path. From there, his straightaway speed did the rest. SNY’s Connor Hughes called this type of running a “staple of the Shanahan/LaFleur offense” and whatever Hall’s got, the Jets were missing it in 2022.
“Optimistic Jets” shared the view from the stands, which gives you more of a broadcast perspective.
Jets X-Factor’s Michael Nania credited right tackle George Fant and tight end Tyler Conklin with the two blocks that sprung this 11-on-11 “explosive.”
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Sauce’s First Interception, ‘GW’ & ‘JJ’ Excel
Alongside Hall on the offense, wide receiver Garrett Wilson started practice with another dropped pass — something he’s struggled with this summer. Rather than dwell on it though, the early mistake appeared to motivate the rookie.
“Mike White to GW [Wilson] for the YAC [yards after catch] score,” relayed Jets X-Factor’s Robby Sabo not long after. “Quick timing route and catch, GW’s YAC ability did the rest. Excellent [from] first reaction to the field awareness.”
Two minutes later, Wilson had his second-straight touchdown. Sabo detailed it again: “[Chris] Streveler connects with GW for [the] score (20+ [through] rough air). Nice ball and catch.” Video surfaced of the two TD receptions, courtesy of “Let’s Talk Jets!” on Twitter.
Wilson also had a sliding sideline grab from Joe Flacco toward the end of the day.
Don’t worry, the defensive youngsters made sure to strut their stuff too. Gardner had a solid showing and came up with his first interception of training camp.
Associated Press beat reporter Dennis Waszak Jr. informed the masses: “Sauce Gardner picks off fellow rookie Desmond Ridder. Nice read by Gardner after the Jets D-line put on heavy pressure.”
Considering all the “almost” moments the No. 4 overall pick has had at camp, you might say that this result was long overdue. That’s the way this NYJ defense has to click in 2022 — pressure the quarterback and force turnovers.
Speaking of pressure, Johnson provided plenty of it this afternoon. The first-round pass rusher sacked Marcus Mariota twice on August 19. Considering that’s the current starting quarterback in Atlanta, it’s safe to say that “J.J.” did this against first or second-team blockers.
By the way, undrafted rookie WR Irvin Charles was also named as a standout performer by a couple of beat reporters against the Falcons. Not a bad day for the Jets rookie class.