New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson appears to have more playmakers than ever in 2022, and yet one is emerging as a clear favorite on the football field.
Signed as a tight end compliment to 2021 AFC champion C.J. Uzomah, most overlooked Tyler Conklin’s arrival at One Jets Drive early on. That didn’t last long, however, as the former Minnesota Vikings breakout has earned the starting role at every twist and turn of training camp.
The annual Green & White Scrimmage was no different. Not only did Conklin outperform the other tight ends under the bright lights of MetLife Stadium, he outperformed every pass-catcher, and it didn’t take long for Wilson to look his way.
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Conklin’s Big Night at the ‘Green & White’
The new dynamic duo in the passing game connected twice during the first 11-on-11 period according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “Conklin shows up in every practice,” he added glowingly.
The 11-play march ended with — you guessed it — a Conklin touchdown on a slant from Wilson. “Optimistic Jets” provided video for any and all fans that were not in attendance.
Wilson also went a perfect five-for-five on the drive, per Dennis Waszak Jr. of the Associated Press, leading the offense 75 yards with a couple of scrambles mixed in — and it didn’t take long for observers to credit the perfect sync between Conklin and his signal-caller.
“Nobody was busier than Conklin on Saturday night,” detailed The Athletic’s Zack Rosenblatt. “He was the most frequently targeted pass-catcher, building off what has been a strong training camp for the free agent signee. He has outplayed Uzomah… Conklin had seven catches combined between 7-on-7, 11-on-11 and the scrimmage, including Wilson’s lone touchdown catch. After years of ineptitude at tight end, the Jets might have finally found a quality player to fill that spot.”
The Jet Press’ Justin Fried agreed, calling him the “biggest standout” from the Green & White scrimmage, “without a doubt.” The writer also ended any debate, voicing that Conklin “is the Jets clear TE1” at this time.
Pro Football Network national reporter Mike Kaye even noticed the QB-TE combo, referring to Conklin as Wilson’s “new safety blanket.”
“Wilson’s chemistry with Conklin was the highlight of the evening,” Kaye concluded later, “as the pair didn’t have a letdown despite routine connections… Wilson likes working the middle of the field, and fantasy football folks should buy stock in Conklin and [Braxton] Berrios this season.”
Head coach Robert Saleh spoke on the performance as well: “Conk is awesome. He’s been fantastic for us… just his ability on third down to create separation and win those one-on-ones and be a run blocker — he’s an all-around tight end. He’s been a pleasant surprise.”
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Different Green & White Standouts
We’ve already talked about Will Parks’ solid performance but there were a few under-the-radar Jets that stood out on Saturday night.
Rookie running back Zonovan “Bam” Knight continued to flash his potential with Ty Johnson sidelined. Rosenblatt highlighted him alongside Breece Hall as the two most impressive ball carriers at the scrimmage.
Brothers Quinnen and Quincy Williams drew some praise and attention too, as well as rookie UDFA Tony Adams at safety.
Meanwhile, bubble candidates Del’Shawn Phillips (LB) and Luq Barcoo (CB) both had interceptions and on the flip side, RB La’Mical Perine and WR Calvin Jackson Jr. both found the endzone on a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
Kaye also noted that “defensive linemen John Franklin-Myers and Carl Lawson clearly teamed up for a ‘sack’ on Zach Wilson, but the whistle never blew.” He added: “Fellow defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins scored a ‘sack’ on a play that was actually blown dead during the two-minute drill late in practice.”
For the most part, starting cornerbacks Sauce Gardner and Bryce Hall (D.J. Reed Jr. did not play) got the better of first-team wide receivers Elijah Moore, Corey Davis and Garrett Wilson — although the rookie wideout had an insane deep reception that was just out of bounds at the front corner of the endzone.