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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Denzel Mims was the New York Jets’ exciting new playmaker two summers ago, a potential game-changing wide receiver for years to come.

A lot has happened since. And not a lot good.

The 2020 second-round pick out of Baylor dealt with hamstring issues as a rookie, an awful case of food poisoning that caused him to lose 20 pounds last offseason, a bout with COVID-19 last season and seeing his role in the offense dwindle to nearly non-existent.

And during that time, there was a lot of chatter — mostly by frustrated fans and puzzled media, all wondering what happened to the player the Jets thought they were getting.

“Everyone’s gonna talk,” Mims said after practice Friday. “It’s up to you if you let that bother you. I don’t (go) on social media like that. I don’t pay no attention to that (stuff).

“I’m just going to continue to do what I need to do, honestly.”

Mims has played in just 20 games — including 11 starts — in two NFL seasons, catching 31 passes for 490 yards and zero touchdowns. His slide down the team’s depth chart at wide receiver has been glaring, and he’s below Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, Garrett Wilson, Braxton Berrios and Jeff Smith in training camp.

Mims’ roster spot is far from guaranteed. But the 24-year-old receiver has grand goals for himself — the same as he had the moment his name was called with the 59th overall pick in the draft.

“Hopefully I see myself on top,” he said. “I mean, I feel like I put in enough work to be there. That’s the coaches’ decision, but I’ll continue to work my tail off and do everything I can.”

Mims doesn’t mean just being part of a rotation, either.

“A starting receiver,” he said. “That’s my goal. That’s my only goal.”

His confidence has not waned, even if everyone else’s in him has. Mims says he feels a lot better this summer than he did last season.

“I just think, shoot, I’m trying to do everything right,” he said.

His health is improved and his knowledge of the playbook is on point.

“I show it every day,” Mims said. “It’s up to them if they want to play me or not, but I show it every day what I can do. And I’m going to continue to do that.”

When Mims was drafted by the Jets, he came to New York to play in an offense led by then-coach Adam Gase and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. He missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury and didn’t make his debut until Week 7. He finished with 23 catches for 357 yards in nine games.

Following a coaching change in the offseason, food poisoning after eating some bad salmon set him back and he spent most of last summer trying to get up to speed physically and mentally in a new system. That comfort zone never developed as he had just eight receptions for 133 yards in 11 games, and he missed three others because of COVID-19.

There were lapses in Mims’ overall game — and perhaps his focus — that prevented him from reaching his potential. Coach Robert Saleh has seen a difference, with Mims having some playmaking flashes during the early part of camp.

“He’s doing a really good job,” Saleh said. “He is fighting his tail off in the run game. Because he’s so well-conditioned right now, he’s doing things with his body in the passing game from a route-running standpoint that he hasn’t been able to do in the past.”

Mims also has been working extra on special teams, a role that could play in the final decisions on cutdown day in a few weeks.

“Really, really happy with the approach he’s taken this offseason,” Saleh said. “The way he attacked OTAs and the way he’s come into training camp, where he is mentally, the coaching that he’s accepting.

“He doesn’t make excuses, he’s just grinding and he’s approaching it like a professional. And for that, I’m grateful.”

NOTES: RB Tevin Coleman (illness) and TE Jeremy Ruckert (foot) made their practice debuts. … RB Ty Johnson and DE Vinny Curry remained sidelined with hamstring injuries. … The Jets had three minor skirmishes, but all were broken up quickly. “One rule: No punching,” Saleh said. “They’re going to push, they’re going to shove. It’s going to happen. They’re sick of each other. I think I’m sick of hearing the same calls from the coordinators, and I think everyone’s sick of each other at this point in camp. But we’ve got one more week of it before we get to go to Philadelphia (for the preseason opener) and see different humans. But rule one, protect the team, don’t punch.”

___

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Robert Saleh Calls out Jets Veteran: Egregiously Awful

Getty New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh making a play call during a preseason game.

A New York Jets veteran broke the golden rule during the preseason opener.

Quincy Williams came screaming on a third and short play and smacked Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts when he was clearly out of bounds.

Eagles should just pull their starters right now. This is garbage. pic.twitter.com/JzqaYYwyNr

— Andrew Perloff (@andrewperloff) August 12, 2022

This had the entire Eagles sideline infuriated but perhaps none more so than the head coach Nick Sirianni who had a few expletives to share about how things played out:

Here is the late hit on Jalen Hurts that caused Nick Sirianni to lose his mind. You don’t need to be a professional lip reader to decode this one. Coach was HOT!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/yShuzfSEIv

— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) August 13, 2022

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Not Great Play
VideoVideo related to robert saleh calls out jets veteran: ‘egregiously awful’2022-08-13T13:30:56-04:00

After the game head coach Robert Saleh was clearly pissed off and called out Williams:

“Egregiously awful from Quincy and he knows that. He knows better and those are the plays that Quincy has got to get out of his game if he wants to become the linebacker that we all think he can be.”

#Jets HC Robert Saleh called out LB Quincy Williams after the game for his ‘egregiously awful’ late hit on #Eagles QB Jalen Hurts + ‘those are the plays that Quincy has to get out of his game if he wants to be the linebacker that we all think he can be’: ???? @nyjets #TakeFlight pic.twitter.com/nuROEDgN4n

— Paul Andrew Esden Jr (@BoyGreen25) August 13, 2022

Saleh admitted that he did talk to coach Sirianni after the game.

It was a completely dirty hit by Williams that is inexcusable. Even beyond the obvious late hit out of bounds, Williams kept that Eagles drive alive.

Philadelphia was facing a third and five on their opening drive of the game. Hurts had nowhere to go so he was heading out of bounds at the 35-yard line. It would’ve been a fourth-and-five play where the Eagles would’ve attempted a 52-yard field goal.

Instead, Williams gets dinged for unnecessary roughness which is an automatic first down, and a personal foul penalty which slaps on 15 additional yards.

Instead of attempting a long field goal, the Eagles get new life and ended up punching it in for a touchdown two plays later.

History Continues to Repeat Itself Play
VideoVideo related to robert saleh calls out jets veteran: ‘egregiously awful’2022-08-13T13:30:56-04:00

Throughout the offseason, multiple Jets reporters have shared that the team believes Quincy has “Pro Bowl potential.”

“I’m a breakout player, and this is my breakout year.”

In midst of a forgettable season, Quincy Williams (@quincywilliams_) is a major bright spot for #Jets.

He’s not just stepping out of his brother’s shadow, but showing potential to be Pro Bowl player: https://t.co/tIf1xz7icc pic.twitter.com/4MlBOGS2DK

— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) December 16, 2021

Williams is a unique old-school kind of player. He is fast, hits hard, and always travels over 100 miles an hour.

However, his strength is also his weakness. The problem with him last year is he contributed a lot of splash plays, but he gave up just as many or more because of his recklessness.

Williams doesn’t analyze what he is seeing. He is like a dog chasing a car and that has gotten him in a lot of trouble in the past. NFL offenses have fooled him into chasing something that isn’t the primary part of the play to get him out of the way and then they do what they were really hoping for.

That was oftentimes a liability in 2021 and it is already proving to be in the very first preseason game.

If he doesn’t clean up his act, not only will he not realize his Pro Bowl potential, but he will be benched.

New signee Kwon Alexander has been surging up the depth chart with his prior knowledge of the system, great physique, and infectious leadership.

It seems at this point it is only a matter of time before he takes the reins away from Williams and becomes the main starting linebacker next to CJ Mosley.

As talented as Williams is, it doesn’t seem like you can coach his flaws out of him. That relentless pursuit seems to be the very fabric of his DNA and you’ll have to either take it or leave it.

Follow @BoyGreen25 @obermuller_nyj on Twitter for all the latest New York Jets breaking news, rumors, fresh takes, and more!

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