Wide receiver Denzel Mims has only had six days of team practice heading into his potential NFL debut Sunday, but the 2020 second-round draft pick isn’t at all worried about how he’ll fit in with the Jets’ offense.
After missing nearly all of training camp with a hamstring injury, Mims hurt his other hamstring just days before the Jets’ season opener in Buffalo. He was able to practice for the first time last week since the start of the season and head coach Adam Gase sounded confident the rookie receiver would be able to take the field for the first time this Sunday against the Bills.
As far as Mims’ concern for the missed time with quarterback Sam Darnold? He says he has none.
“I feel like even before I got hurt, I feel like I built a good connection with Sam,” he said on a Zoom call Friday afternoon following practice. “We both came back around the same time this time, I feel like we just picked up where we left off. We continue to try and get better.”
With the help of his fellow receivers, Mims said he feels confident in his understanding of the offense. The 23-year-old Baylor product believes he can bring energy to the team, and that he can “make plays and do everything that I can to help the team out to get a victory.”
As difficult as it has been for Mims to watch from the sideline, he said he was able to dedicate even more time to studying the offense while he waited to make his debut.
“I feel like I’m in a great place with the offense,” Mims said. “I’ve been studying extra, working with the receivers, trying to get all the plays down, trying to get as much help as I can.”
When the Jets took Mims 59th overall in this year’s draft, the organization was likely hoping he’d be an immediate contributor. As he struggled to stay healthy early, it became clear the Jets would have to wait longer than they would have liked to see what he could bring to the field.
Gase has pointed out that Mims hasn’t had the practice time the team would like him to get before making his debut, but the second-year Jets coach believes he has incredible potential and will be able to work through all the new information that’s been thrown his way this week.
“He’s got incredible length, range. He can go up and get the ball, [and has] speed. He has all those traits that you’re looking for in a guy that can be a really good receiver,” Gase said on a Zoom call Thursday. “It’s just keep teaching him technique, scheme, coverages, all those little details that he might not have seen a lot of in college.”
Mims became a starter his sophomore year at Baylor, starting 11 of 12 games and finishing with 61 receptions for 1,087 yards with eight touchdowns. Starting in all 13 games his senior year, Mims recorded 66 receptions for 1,020 yards with 12 touchdowns.
He was named to the 2019 First Team All-Big 12 to cap off his collegiate career, ranking sixth on Baylor’s career receiving yards list (2,925) and fifth in career receptions (186).
Mims’ road to his NFL debut strongly resembles that of Odell Beckham Jr., who missed the first four games of his Giants rookie season in 2014 due to a hamstring injury he aggravated during training camp. Beckham made his NFL debut in Week 5 and caught the go-ahead touchdown in a win over the Falcons.
The Jets are simply hoping for a go-ahead touchdown, period. But if Mims were to play a part in it, that would just be the sweetener.
“I’m going to be happy, it’s going to be my first game, I’m going to be very excited, have a lot of emotions before the game,” Mims said. “But I’m just going to have to lock myself back in so I’m not distracted.”
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