‘It’s another challenge for us’ – The Denver Post


Gang Green’s secondary has been up against some of the most talented receivers in the NFL this year.

But Sunday could be the biggest test for Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and D.J. Reed.

Justin Jefferson has arguably been the best receiver in football this season. In 11 games, Jefferson has caught 81 receptions for 1,232 yards and five touchdowns.

“I think any player relishes playing against the best,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said about facing Jefferson and the Vikings. “I know, just speaking just for us, we’ve had some great challenges all year.

“You have Miami’s group, Buffalo’s group, there have been some really good receivers that we’ve gone up against. It’s another challenge for us and knowing our secondary, they’re ready to take that challenge on.”

The Jets defense — with Gardner and Reed — have been up to the challenge of slowing down top-flight receivers throughout the year. Against the Bengals in Week 3, Gang Green’s secondary limited wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase to six catches for 29 yards and a touchdown.

Two weeks after that, the Jets held Tyreek Hill, who leads the league in receptions [87] and receiving yards [1,233], to seven catches for 47 yards. They also kept Bills receiver Stefon Diggs out of the end zone despite him registering five catches for 93 yards.

The Jets will likely have both Gardner and Reed covering Jefferson throughout the game. Both players are performing at a Pro Bowl level.

Gardner has 48 tackles, two interceptions and 14 pass deflections. He is currently the highest-rated rookie player [86.7] this season and the second-highest-rated defensive back in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

Gardner has been playing so well that he currently leads all AFC cornerbacks in balloting for the 2023 Pro Bowl Games.

“It feels real good,” Gardner said about the honor. “I’m a natural humble guy, but that was one of the things I was saying before the season started about my individual goals.

“It’s not too often that rookies make the Pro Bowl. But at the same time, I know the job is not finished yet.

“So I’m going to keep my head down and keep going.”

According to PFF, Reed has a 76.4 grade as he has recorded 54 tackles, one interception and seven pass deflections.

The Jets defense will also be facing Kirk Cousins, who is having another solid season for the Vikings. In 11 games, Cousins has thrown for 2,760 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Minnesota is ranked seventh in passing offense [340.3]. They also have running back Dalvin Cook, who the Jets defense has to be concerned about as he has rushed for 841 yards and six touchdowns.

The Jets defense has stepped up to the challenge of facing any offense this season. They’re fifth in the league in total defense [308.8] and fourth in points allowed per game [17.8].

“They have a very good running back [Cook], very good offense, offensive line, quarterback, two good receivers, things like that,” Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams said.

“They’re 9-2 for a reason. Good defense, offensive scheme, so it’s a big challenge. It’s a great opportunity for us to show the world in what we believe is a good defense against a good offense that we are going against.”


After suffering an elbow injury during the win against the Bills on Nov. 6, defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins returned to practice for the first time in three weeks.

Rankins was a limited participant Wednesday and depending on how the week goes, he could play against the Vikings. Tight end Kenny Yeboah was also limited as he has been recovering from a calf injury he suffered during practice before the game against the Patriots.

Running back Michael Carter (ankle), tackle Cedric Obuehi (groin) and safety Ashtyn Davis (hamstring) didn’t practice. All three players suffered injuries in the win against the Bears last Sunday.

Carter’s injury is the most significant of the three, as he has been the Jets starting running back since Breece Hall was lost for the season due to an ACL injury in the win against the Broncos on Oct. 23.

If Carter can’t play against Minnesota, Zonovan “Bam” Knight could receive more playing time, much like he did against the Bears. In that game, Knight led the Jets in rushing with 69 yards on 14 carries.

Knight and Ty Johnson helped the Jets combine for 158 yards and a touchdown.

“Ty has been doing a great job with special teams,” Saleh said. “He’s a four-quarter guy, but he has also been a big presence on third down for us.

“When MC [Carter] went down last week, he had an opportunity to step in and get some carries. He’s a big back, he can hit the hole vertically and pretty fast. Really pumped that he got the opportunity to showcase who he really is and we will see how this week goes.”

Reed didn’t practice as he dealt with a personal matter. But Saleh was confident Reed would return to practice on Thursday.



Source link