Up to this point in camp, a popular narrative has surround one of the Jets’ 2020 draft selections. Second-year receiver, Denzel Mims, has been the subject of this scrutiny, as he spent the beginning of camp mostly running with the sec and and third-team offense. Rumors swirled about his standing on the team, with onlookers citing separation issues and route-running as the reasoning behind his lack of playing time.
Yet, Mims showcased his massive ability in the Jets’ first preseason game against the Giants. Especially on the 20 yard catch of his. Mims caught a pass and dragged multiple Giants defenders past the first down marker for a big gain. Since that game, Mims has seen more first team reps in practice and garnered praise from coaches and players alike.
Seeing the two extremes so far, someone removed from following the Jets may wonder what has sparked the sudden change in Mims’s performance. The answer is relatively simple when looking at Mims’s own words, and his comments provide insight into the struggles the receiver has faced in the beginning of his second year.
Mims said he has “a lot of catching up to do” regarding his comfortability and knowledge of the offense. Mainly stemming from an offseason battle with food poisoning that caused him to miss most of OTAs.
“It set me back a lot,” Mims said. “Them guys were out there practicing everyday and up there everyday. I was dealing with an illness, so I wasn’t up there everyday. I’m just trying to do everything I can to make sure I bounce back and catch up so come Week 1, I’m ready to go.”
Mims said he lost twenty pounds during his battle with food poisoning. “I started at 217 and went down to 197,” said Mims. The receiver also stated that the sickness “took a big toll” on him.
Between losing twenty pounds to sickness and falling behind the learning curve for a new offense, Mims could have easily folded to the massive adversity facing him. But despite the odds stacked against him, the receiver is utilizing every opportunity to improve himself and work his way onto the field. Mims has been putting in extra work with the quarterbacks to ensure they are “on the same page” and has also been catching extra passes. When asked whether these actions are genuine, Mims stated “That’s what I want. This is something I choose to do.”
On top of working on his offensive game, Mims has worked to be involved in other facets of the game. During the game against the Giants, Mims was seen on the opening kickoff. While this may be a demotion for other players, the receiver stated that this was “something he wanted to do.” Mims said ” I wanted to get on kickoff, all the special teams really. And just try to be active, try to help the team get better. And try to do everything I can.”
Mims’s work ethic and determination to get better has stood out to his head coach and quarterback. Zach Wilson said Mims has a “fire” to him right now. “He just wants to be great. He’s really just trying to show everybody what he can do. He’s just doing everything he can to make sure he follows his assignment, gives that full effort. We’re going to what we can to get him the ball,” Wilson said.
Robert Saleh expressed a similar sentiment, citing how Mims “works his tail off” and will receive more opportunities as a result of his work ethic. The head coach also cited Mims’s “intent” after the Giants game and raved about how the receiver has “had such a good week, week and a half of training camp” leading up to the game.
After struggling through sickness and a slow beginning of training camp, it seems that Denzel Mims is seeing the light of opportunity at the end of his tunnel of adversity. But based on his mindset and work ethic, Mims seems hellbent on fulfilling his lofty potential as a receiver for the Jets. The season hasn’t officially begun yet, but Denzel Mims could make an impact on the Jets’s offense faster than the beginning of training camp would have led many to believe.