Denzel Mims uncertainty could be massive Jets headache

The Jets are scheduled to open the season in Buffalo in three weeks. The question now is whether they will have the speedy receiver they drafted in the second round on the field that day.

Denzel Mims remains sidelined with a hamstring injury that has cost him the first week of training camp practices and could wind up significantly slowing his growth as a rookie. Mims injured the hamstring during the ramp up to true camp practices and has not been on the field for the offense vs. defense sessions that began on Aug. 14.

Coach Adam Gase does not sound alarmed … yet. He has maintained he thinks the coaches can get Mims ready quickly, but time is ticking away.

“We’re just going to have to put it in fast forward and do everything we can, we can get him as ready as possible,” Gase said. “We’ve just got to get him ready to go. It is what it is with training camp, and when you have an injury, we just have less time to do it.”

Mims’ injury would be a tough setback in a normal year. It is accentuated by the short training camp this year due to COVID-19. Mims was unable to work with his teammates on the field in the spring then took an awkward step while running a route during a walk-through practice.

Gase has said that Mims first will have to begin working with the trainers on the side at practice, doing running and agility. Then, the Jets will start working him into wide receiver drills. Finally, he will be cleared to start participating in the team portion of practice.

Jets rookie Denzel Mims with Baylor in 2019AP

But if each of those steps takes a few days, you’re talking about Mims probably not getting into the team periods until next weekend. That would leave one week of training camp for him to work, then the Jets would be into game week practices where the reps decrease.

Mims is spending time in practice next to wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson and assistant wide receivers coach Hines Ward, who are both trying to help Mims stay sharp mentally even if he can’t practice.

When Mims will return is anyone’s guess. Gase has been reluctant to put a timetable on it because of how unpredictable hamstring injuries can be. The Jets’ worst fear must be rushing him back too quickly and making the injury even worse. A hamstring injury is particularly tricky for Mims, since his game is predicated on speed.

“Hopefully we can get him back sooner than later,” Gase said, “it’s just I don’t want to put a prediction on a soft tissue injury because all it takes is, he’s running one day, he goes and cuts and it doesn’t feel right and then it could set you back a couple days. I don’t want to jinx it.”

The Jets took Mims with the 59th-overall pick out of Baylor. He is known for his speed (a 4.37 40-yard dash) and making contested catches. He had 66 catches for 1,020 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Bears last season. At 6-foot-3, he is potentially a big red zone target for Sam Darnold.

“He’s a big guy that can run really fast, make some incredible catches, has great body control,” Gase said of what appealed to the Jets about Mims. “These are all things you guys haven’t gotten to see yet and I haven’t seen live. The amount of plays that he made, there was a ton of them. When you got a guy like that, when a ball is thrown, whether it be behind you out in front of you, and you can either kick it into gear and go get it, or make that catch where your body’s kind of contorted in a weird way. Those are things that you can’t teach. Those are abilities that he has, and I was a huge fan of him. I was really excited when we were able to take him and I’m just waiting for him to get back, get out there so we can kind of see how far we can take him this year.”

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