Sports

Jets finally back on field together as one team

The Jets took the field just after 9 a.m. on Friday for the first time as a team in 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic erased any on-field practices in the spring and delayed the practices this summer. Friday morning, finally, the Jets got to step on the field as a full team and practice.

“I thought today, great energy by the guys,” coach Adam Gase said on a Zoom call with the media after the practice. “You can see they’re excited to be out there. It’s good to get to go against each other. It’s been a long time. It’s the first practice we’ve had since December, and maybe like 60 percent of the guys we have are new it feels like. So, it was a good start for us.”

The rust was evident. The offense, with seven new starters from last season, looked like a group that lacks cohesion, as you’d expect. There were several false start penalties and hiccups like Sam Darnold throwing outside and his receiver cutting inside. But, overall, the first day of training camp looked largely what the first day of training camp always looks like.

That is, except for the masks and the reminders around the Jets’ training center that we are still dealing with the pandemic. All of the Jets coaches wore masks during practice as did the players not participating. Players only could use water bottles designated for them instead of sharing bottles like in the past.

Sam Darnold throws a pass during Friday’s practice.Getty Images

“I think the masks have become part of everyday life,” center Connor McGovern said. “It’s something where I know I’m walking into a building, it’s almost natural now to throw a mask on. I felt like I was at a camp practice.”

It seemed like the Jets went back into normal football mode when practice started.

“You’re wearing the mask, and that’s the only thing that kind of reminds you, really,” Gase said. “You can see the spacing around the field, how everybody was aware. But I do think you get lost in the moment a little bit as far as it’s football, you see guys out there working extremely hard and you’re reminded it’s your back to work. But at the same time, you’re not forgetting about the protocols that are put in place and you’re trying to do everything right.”

The Jets have been doing strength and conditioning for two weeks and they began doing some on-field drills this week with the offense and defense separate. Friday was the first day the entire team was practicing together and the offense went against the defense. The Jets will put the pads on Monday.

This is a condensed training camp, so the Jets don’t have much time to jell. There are no preseason games and just 14 padded practices. The Jets are scheduled to open the season four weeks from Sunday against the Bills.

McGovern noted the offense had false start issues during the first team period, but none in the second team period. He said players are going to have to clean up things like that much quicker this year than in a normal training camp.

“I think everyone realizes the urgency we’re under and the urgency we have to improve with and the pressure we’re under to fix that little stuff,” McGovern said. “Once a game starts, that’s not a little thing anymore. I think we fixed it fast and it shows how ready we are to knock the rust off and get ready for a game.”

Gase emphasized not looking ahead and worrying about only having four weeks. He is keeping the focus on the short term.

“We can’t panic just because we only have four weeks to get ready for the first game,” Gase said. “We’ve got to find a way to get better every day.”

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