Robert Saleh Not Afraid to Play Young Guys; Everyone Should Be Healthy for Training Camp by Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg & Randy Lange
Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg and Randy Lange will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: What did we learn at Jets minicamp?
EA: Robert Saleh is going to let the youth lead the way. The Jets have a young roster and Robert Saleh referred to Pete Carroll Thursday, saying, "You can't be afraid to play young guys." These Jets will be fun to watch and Saleh knows there are going to be ups and downs, but they are going to take on the personality of their coach. I loved what Saleh said about identity, too, that it has to happen organically and you can't force-feed it. Saleh is in the investment business and that means opportunities and reps for players and seeing how things develop. This Jets 2021 draft class has not played a down, but its loaded with talent and potential. And the hunger and work ethics of guys like QB Zach Wilson, OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, WR Elijah Moore and RB Michael Carter are exactly what you want, plus DC Jeff Ulbrich raved about rookie 'backers Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen. A player to watch during training camp is UDFA Isaiah Dunn, an Oregon State product. As far as big picture, the defensive line could create the chaos Saleh desires if they stay healthy, and the wide receiver group might be the most improved unit on the team. I'm eager to see the linebackers in action because C.J. Mosley returns and he likes the raw talent there. GM Joe Douglas will continue adding into the summer, but this group and their leader ended the spring on a high note.
EG: I don't think we learned a lot that's different from OTAs considering Robert Saleh said that there were no changes between the blueprint of the practices. With that being said, there were some takeaways. First, all players who were rehabbing injuries - such as Quinnen Williams, Mekhi Becton, Folorunso Fatukasi and Blake Cashman - are all expected to be ready for training camp. Second, seeing Corey Davis practice for two days, you got a sense of what Davis could bring to the WR corps and the team. Zach Wilson went to Davis on Davis' first play in team periods. Wilson also added he plans to organize a time to throw with the skill players before training camp. We also learned that Saleh isn't afraid to play his young players (particularly at cornerback), something he learned from Seahawks HC Pete Carroll. There's been a lot of speculation the team may add a veteran CB to a room whose oldest player is Justin Hardee (27) followed by Corey Ballentine and Elijah Campbell, who are both 25. GM Joe Douglas also drafted three CBs on Day 3 of the NFL Draft before adding Isaiah Dunn as an undrafted free agent. Lastly, Wilson seems to be checking all the boxes he can while in shorts and a T-shirt, but the next step is when the pads come on, which is when the real test begins.
RL: We learned these Jets are younger and faster. Younger by at least one measure - Marcus Maye, their 2017 second-round pick, is the youngest longest-tenured Jet at this time of the season since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. And the average age of the current roster is a mere 24.9 years - the last time the Green & White was under 25 years of age for the entire season's roster was back-to-back in 1977-78. As for speed, we know about Elijah Moore, both Michael Carters, Tevin Coleman, Carl Lawson off the edge, Brandin Echols, and that's just from this year's arrivals. As HC Robert Saleh recalled this week in closing up the Jets' training center for the next 40 days or so until training camp: "Pete Carroll once said you can't be afraid to play young guys. They're hell on wheels and they're fun to watch." And even though youth, with or without jet speed, can take some wrong turns as it matures, we also learned more that Saleh is willing to roll the dice: "It's an exciting time for these young guys, an exciting time for the organization, and we're just excited to see how it plays out."