Not too much

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It’s really not about that . . .

You see stuff analyzing the biggest things we learned from the Jets’ first week of OTAs.

Really, not too much.

First of all, the media only has limited access. How can you evaluate something fairly if you only see every few practices? The Jets OTAs started on May 23, and there are a total of 10 practices over a three-week period. The media only gets to watch five of those 10 practices.

So how can we talk about who looks good seeing five of ten practices?

But even if we were there every day, should we really be evaluating how guys are doing, when this time of year is essentially a classroom on the field?

“The biggest thing that you’re always trying to achieve with regards to OTAs is neck up,” Robert Saleh said.

Saleh continued: “Everything about OTAs is really about technique, fundamentals, the violence part of it is not there because you don’t have pads on, but to be able to refamiliarize yourself with the scheme and what you’re being asked to do.”

So this time of year is really not about guys supposedly making big plays in an OTA practice. There are no pads or tackling.

But I will give you an example of something really important taking place at Jets OTA practices, and that is what is going on with guard Alijah Vera-Tucker.

This spring is huge for him. As you know he’s moving from left to right guard. Saw him last week lining up next to right tackle Conor McDermott working on his footwork and hand placement on the right side. Switching sides isn’t easy because you have to reverse everything you do with your hands and feet.

While Vera-Tucker played some right guard as a freshman at USC, that was in 2018. In 2019, he started at left guard, and then 2020 at left tackle for the Trojans, and then left guard last year with the Jets.

It’s been a while since his stint at right guard, so he’s got to retrain his muscle memory.

So these reps in the spring are invaluable.

If the Jets intend on moving Mekhi Becton to right tackle, which is unclear now, he would benefit from getting that work in the spring with the Jets coaches, but he’s not there.

Here is another example of somebody benefitting a great deal from the field classroom, and that is cornerback Sauce Gardner, getting more comfortable playing zone defense, after primarily being a man-to-man guy in college.

He’s getting a lot of work on the zone spacing and concepts in Florham Park this spring.

Another benefit of the spring is Zach Wilson getting on the same page with new weapons like tight end C.J. Ozumah and Tyler Conklin and receiver Garrett Wilson. Last week we saw Zach Wilson throw a crossing route behind Garrett Wilson. Not a big deal this time of the year. They are working on developing chemistry. If this happens during the season, then that is a problem.

Remember, these spring practices used to be called “Passing Camps” because with major limits on what the linemen can do, it’s the throwing and catching stuff, and the guys covering, that is something you can get out of these practices.

So the biggest takeaway from Week One of the OTAs is guys are learning.

May 31, 2022

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Dan Leberfeld
Dan Leberfeld
Publisher of Jets Confidential Magazine. Call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4) to subscribe. Co-host of Press Coverage every Saturday on SiriusXM NFL Radio from 11-2.

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