CANTON, Ohio — The Jets opened the preseason on Thursday night with a 21-16 loss to the Browns in the Hall of Fame Game.
Most preseason games have become pretty meaningless in terms of projecting the regular season.
This one was extra meaningless because the Jets sat almost all of their key players.
Still, there were some things to take away from the game.
Here are some thoughts after watching the preseason opener:
1. The Jets have to be thrilled with how Zach Wilson’s return to action went.
Wilson’s confidence needs to be rebuilt after he completely lost it last year.
You can talk all day about Aaron Rodgers’ mentorship, and there is value there, but this is really about Wilson believing in himself again.
In order to get there, Wilson needs to have some positive moments on the field and no big negatives.
A 57-yard pass to Malik Taylor gave him something to feel good about and he made no killer mistakes.
That is a good start for him.
No one is saying a preseason throw should land him in Canton (while in Canton!), but it was a baby step.
That is all the Jets need from Wilson in August.
If the Jets need him at all this season, they need to know that Wilson has his confidence back.
2. The Mekhi Becton situation took another strange turn Thursday night.
He said he felt some discomfort in his right knee and came out of the game after seven snaps.
He still played on extra-point and field-goal attempts, which was strange.
It feels like there is a push and pull between Becton and the team about how ready he is to play.
Becton talked about dealing with his “new normal” after the game.
Head coach Robert Saleh has talked about Becton’s need to gain confidence in his right knee, which he has injured in each of the past two seasons.
Becton annoyed the Jets in the offseason when he blamed his injury last year on playing right tackle.
You can’t overreact to Thursday night, but the Jets are going to need to see more from Becton in the remaining preseason games to have any level of trust in him.
It is fair to wonder whether he will end up getting traded before the season.
3. While the veterans sat, the rookies got a good chance to play.
Second-round pick Joe Tippmann has not gotten a ton of reps in training camp practices but he led the offense Thursday with 46 snaps at center.
Will McDonald, the first-round pick this year, showed some flashes of his speed rushing the passer and registered one quarterback hit.
Fourth-round tackle Carter Warren benefitted from Becton leaving the game early and played 43 snaps at left tackle.
Running back Israel Abanikanda showed his speed on a touchdown run.
You got the sense from Saleh’s postgame comments that the Jets want to see more than just that speed from Abanikanda.
4. It was very telling that second-year players Tony Adams and Jeremy Ruckert did not play.
That shows how far they’ve come in securing roles.
Adams was an undrafted free agent last year who surprisingly made the team.
This year, it looks like he’ll be the starting safety.
Ruckert had a quiet rookie season after missing much of the offseason with an injury.
This year, the tight end had a really strong spring and that has continued into training camp.
He still has C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin in front of him, but the Jets clearly have Ruckert in their plans.
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