One of the biggest questions facing the Jets this season has been answered.
Gang Green’s top pick Zach Wilson wore No. 2 when he made his highly anticipated practice debut Friday as the Jets held a minicamp for their rookies.
But before you go out and buy a No. 2 jersey, the Jets said that the numbers aren’t official yet.
Friday’s session marked new head coach Robert Saleh’s first opportunity to put his first rookie class through their paces.
“That’s the fun part of it right,” Robert Saleh said of getting down to the basics with Wilson and the rest of the newbies. “To be able to go out there and get on the grass with the guys and start teaching your techniques and fundamentals and scheme.
“Seeing the coaches coach and the players play, that’s always the best part about this whole job.”
The position groups present during the minicamp session open to the media Friday afternoon were running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, linebackers and defensive backs. The offensive and defensive line practiced earlier in the day.
Wilson, the second-overall pick in last week’s NFL Draft, was the lone QB on the field.
Saleh, in his first stint as a head coach, had a moment during Friday’s minicamp when he forgot he was the boss.
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“We just had our bigs out there … and the horn blew for practice to be over and I started to take my normal spot behind the huddle and listen to the head coach speak. I was like, ‘Oh shoot, that’s me,’” Saleh said with a laugh.
“From a coordinator standpoint you walk from position to position and you’re just making sure that everybody’s on their P’s and Q’s and things are being recited the way you want it to be and taught the way you want it. And you want to see players responding the way they need to respond. So instead of just hanging around the defense, go on to the offense, special teams … observing practice and making sure that everybody’s doing what they need to do to get better.”
As for Gang Green’s latest quarterback of the future, Wilson went through a series of drills and threw routes for the majority of the media availability session.
Wilson looked fine, but we really won’t know much until the bullets are flying for real in training camp.
Early indicators so far are Wilson has continued to display the leadership traits that made him a star at BYU. He’s been in constant communication with some of his fellow offensive draft classmates. Running back Michael Carter said the two have been building their chemistry since draft weekend.
“He texted me when I got drafted,” Carter, who was selected by the Jets in the fourth round out of North Carolina. “Just trying to build a relationship with him. Just day by day, taking it slowly.”
Second-round pick Elijah Moore, the wide receiver out of Ole Miss, shared similar sentiments.
“He wrote me on social media and said he was pumped and he texted me saying how fired up he was,” Moore said. “Just talking to him on the phone, I can tell you he’s like a general just by what he was saying. He’s just super excited to be here as well. His passion comes out to the phone.”
When Saleh was asked about what he wanted to see in Wilson’s first practice, he deflected the question and focused the conversation on the rookies as a whole. He just wanted the group to get a taste of what it’s like to be an NFL player.
“Out of all the rookies, not just Zack, but we really want these guys to not only get the introduction from the coaching staff and the scheme but also introduce themselves to us,” Saleh said. “This is kind of a low pressure…it’s not a conditioning contest out there, it’s more just kind of going with the flow of the weekend and getting a good feel of what it’s like to be a professional.”
The rookie camp will continue Saturday and Wilson will have his first post-draft session with the media.
For those scoring at home, undrafted free agent kicker Chris Naggar out of SMU wore No. 1.
The Jets also announced a series of transactions on Friday, highlighted by the release of wide receiver Josh Doctson. The Jets signed the former first-round pick in February 2020, but he never played a game for Gang Green after opting out of last year’s pandemic season. Cornerback Kyron Brown, tight end Connor Davis, offensive lineman Leo Koloamatangi, kicker Chase McLaughlin and wide receiver Jaleel Scott were also released. Safety Saquan Hampton was placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. … The Jets also announced that they have inked deals with six of their 10 draft picks: Defensive tackle Jonathan Marshall; linebackers Hamsah Nasirildeen and Jamien Sherwood; cornerbacks Michael Carter, Brandin Echols and Jason Pinnock. Still unsigned are QB Zach Wilson, offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker, WR Elijah Moore and RB Michael Carter.