Earlier today on June 14 we heard New York Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur speak highly of former 2020 second-round pick Denzel Mims, but it was two other playmakers that turned heads during day one of minicamp.
Multiple members of the Jets beat highlighted roster bubble candidates Jeff Smith (WR) and Lawrence Cager (TE) for their impressive play and it’s not the first time we’ve heard that about the latter. Connor Hughes of The Athletic called Cager the “real star” of organized team activities (OTAs) last week and today it was his colleagues that mentioned him by name.
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Smith Does It Again as Cager ‘Keeps Flashing’
Two of the longest-tenured reporters that cover the team, Brian Costello (N.Y. Post) and Rich Cimini (ESPN), agreed in their assessment of Smith and Cager this afternoon.
Costello tweeted first, stating: “Zach Wilson had a good day today. His passes were crisp and he looked decisive. Best practice I’ve seen from Garrett Wilson… Jeff Smith and Lawrence Cager keep showing up.”
Cimini followed with minicamp notes and a little more detail on each pass-catcher.
“Productive practice for WR Jeff Smith (3 catches),” he began, “who got a lot of run with the 1s. He’s ahead of Denzel Mims for WR5, based on reps. Smith [is] also a top special teamer.”
On Cager, Cimini added that the tight end convert “keeps flashing.”
You might remember Smith’s name from last summer. The wide receiver/special teamer was a coaching staff favorite who was out-repping Mims at the time, and it appears he’s doing so again in 2022.
Cimini noted that Mims “ran with the 2/3s,” or the second and third-team units. Of course, it’s very early in the summer and most of this could be a carryover effect, but Mims’ name doesn’t seem to come up as much in practice.
Having said that, he did have one memorable play on June 14, according to DJ Bien-Aime of the New York Daily News. The reporter described it as a “king gain where he showed off the jets” after the catch.
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Spots Won’t Come Easy
With more talent on this offense than ever before, spots at wide receiver and tight end won’t be easy to come by.
Cimini mentioned the “WR5” position because the first four spots are already considered locks. Those wideouts are rookie Garrett Wilson, sophomore Elijah Moore, veteran Corey Davis and staff-favorite Braxton Berrios.
At tight end, you have a similar situation with three locks — C.J. Uzomah, Tyler Conklin and rookie Jeremy Ruckert. When you take into account that more wideouts make the roster than TEs, Smith and Cager are both fighting for the final job or two at their position.
Their contenders are the following players and prospects:
- WR: Mims, Calvin Jackson Jr. (UDFA), Irvin Charles (UDFA), Tarik Black, D.J. Montgomery, Keshunn Abram (UDFA).
- TE: Trevon Wesco, Kenny Yeboah.
Again, roster spots will be more set in stone for the Jets in 2022 than in years past, but that should be considered a good thing. Competition weeds out the weak and that’s exactly what will happen this summer.
At the moment, Smith and Cager might have a leg up on the names above.
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