Real recognize real — as the expression goes — and New York Jets rookie cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is quickly earning the respect of his NFL peers.
The Cincinnati product has now surpassed teammate D.J. Reed Jr.’s elite reception rate allowed after six weeks, with only 13 catches against off 30 targets (43.3%) on Pro Football Focus. Reed is just behind Gardner at 51.9%, with three more yards allowed in coverage.
The pair has been nothing short of spectacular, turning the secondary into the driving force of this 2022 Jets defense, and athletes are beginning to take notice. On October 17, ex-NFL cornerback Charles James II ranked Gardner in the top five for the entire league and later this week on the 19th, a first-ballot Hall of Famer gave the rookie an unexpected shout-out.
WATCH: Jets’ Sauce Gardner Earns Shout-out From Ed Reed
The famous Ed Reed — whose illustrious career has turned him into NFL royalty — took to social media to praise all the rookie DBs with “The 33rd Team.” One name warranted a special exclamation point, however, “Sauce.”
“I just want to give a shout-out to all the rookie DBs out there,” Reed began. “Who ball, who been balling, who got the sauce — like Sauce in New York. Them J-E-T-S Jets. Once a Jet, always a Jet… Man, they balling.”
People sometimes forget that Reed actually closed out his career with Gang Green in 2013 — although technically, he re-signed in Baltimore for his official retirement. The legendary safety started five games for the Jets, appearing in seven. He managed three interceptions during that span despite appearing to lose a step at age 35.
He was later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2019 after five All-Pro seasons and nine Pro Bowl honors, as well as one defensive player of the year award and one Super Bowl ring. If Gardner achieves half as much of what Reed did, it’ll be an extremely successful career for the first-round selection.
The long-time Baltimore Ravens defensive back concluded with a message for Gardner, the Jets, and every other rookie DB. “Shout-out to those Jets with a big win this week,” he voiced. “Shout-out to Sauce and the guys. Those rookies who [are] making their mark. Keep up the good work, keep that work ethic going, take care of yourselves fellas.”
Sound advice from an all-time great.
Three-Straight Rookie of the Week Awards
Speaking of rookies, the belt is officially returning to Florham Park for the third-straight time this week as running back Breece Hall has been voted the Pepsi Zero Sugar Rookie of the Week once again — his second time winning the honor.
Of course, this marks the fourth time an NYJ prospect has won the award in 2022. Hall leads the way with two belts, while Gardner and wide receiver Garrett Wilson each have one.
Jets contributor John Pullano detailed his outing against the Green Bay Packers:
“Hall (6-1, 220) surpassed the century mark on the ground for the first time in his NFL career with 116 yards and a touchdown. The performance made him one of two rookies (Dameon Pierce is the other) to rush for at least 116 yards in a game this season, and Hall is the sixth Jets rookie since 1970 to accomplish the feat.”
Pullano later noted that Hall’s 609 scrimmage yards are “the most of any Jets rookie through six weeks since Matt Snell had 692 in 1964, and 10th most in the NFL this season.”
This 2022 Green & White rookie class continues to dominate and will look to do so again in Denver against the Broncos on October 23.