FLORHAM PARK — After a slew of preseason injuries, the Jets got one of their key players back Tuesday.
Defensive lineman Leonard Williams returned from a hip injury to practice fully for the first time in more than a week.
“I feel great,” Williams said. “I’ve got some fresh legs right now.”
Williams, speaking for the first time since sustaining the injury, said the hip problem surfaced during the team’s scrimmage on Aug. 3.
“It was just kind of inflamed after that,” Williams said. “And I went to the training room on my day off and they just kind of looked at it and told me to stay off of it for a little bit.”
The Jets’ 2015 first-round pick is entering the final year of his contract and could be due a big pay day, if he has a big season. He is not concerned the hip issue will be a factor going forward.
New York Jets linebacker Leonard Williams enters the field for practice on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, in Florham Park. (Photo: Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com)
The 25-year-old went through defensive line drills on Sunday and Monday before making his full return Tuesday. Williams said the week off of practice was precautionary. The medical staff wanted to make sure the injury didn’t linger and affect his play when the regular season starts in less than four weeks.
“I really didn’t want to miss too much time but I was trying to do everything the doctors and trainers needed me to do to be on the safe side,” Williams said. “And I just wanted to get back to practice as soon as possible so I didn’t [have] any fall off. And [Tuesday] definitely felt good, it didn’t felt like I took too many steps back or anything like that.”
Jets coach Adam Gase hasn’t revealed how he plans to deploy his players in Thursday’s preseason game against the Falcons, but there’s now a chance Williams could see some action with the first-team defense.
More good news
Safety, Marcus Maye drops back in coverage as part of Organized Training Activities conducted at the Atlantic Health NY Jets Training Facility in Florham Park, NJ on May 29, 2019. (Photo: Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com-USA Today Network)
The Jets had encouraging developments for two other players dealing with injuries. Starting defensive lineman Henry Anderson, who was evaluated for a concussion after leaving Monday’s practice, was back on the field and practiced fully.
Meanwhile, safety Marcus Maye participated in team drills for the first time since last season. Maye did seven-on-seven work in OTAs and minicamp, but was put on the physically unable to perform list to start camp and sat out the first three weeks of practice.
He came off PUP on Sunday and Tuesday wore a red non-contact jersey. After one set of reps, Maye was on the field with the second team, reuniting with fellow third-year safety Jamal Adams.
The Jets are being cautious with Maye as he returns from 2018 shoulder surgery. The next step will be taking off the red jersey and doing some hitting in practice.
Strong day for Taylor Bertolet
New York Jets kicker Taylor Bertolet kicks a field goal against the Washington Redskins during the first half at FedEx Field. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)
Taylor Bertolet has been on the roster for only a few days, but he’s already made a few fans. When Bertolet drilled a field goal in Tuesday’s practice, a small group of Jets fans in attendance began cheering loudly — their mock enthusiasm a not-so-subtle jab at former kicker Chandler Catanzaro, who suddenly retired last week after a woeful camp and first preseason game.
Bertolet had a good day, going 4-for-4 on field goals, converting from 44 yards, 40, and twice from 33. All of the kicks were well struck with plenty of distance
“He’s done a great job since he’s been back,” Jets special teams coordinator Brant Boyer said. “I have a lot of confidence in the kid. He kicks a great ball and he’s got a strong leg.”
The 26-year-old kicker was with the Jets throughout the spring and summer last year before losing the job to Jason Myers. He kicked for the Salt Lake Stallions in the AAF before the league went bankrupt in April. The Broncos cut Bertolet in July.
Bertolet has never kicked in a regular-season NFL game. He made all four of his preseason kicks for the Jets last season, and went 3-of-4 on extra points.
Inside the offense
Tuesday was a rare bad day for quarterback Sam Darnold. He went 5-for-12 with an interception in 11-on-11 team drills. C.J. Mosley got the pick on a ball that Darnold seemed to throw directly at him.
Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said Darnold wasn’t the only one who struggled in the practice.
“It was a sloppy performance by the whole offense,” Loggains said. “We need to get in there and clean some stuff up. … I need to see it all on tape really to say where the breakdowns happened, but it wasn’t our best performance today and we had been practicing at a much higher level before today.”
Meanwhile, Greg Dortch, who seems to have the early lead in the punt returner competition, is also moving up the receiver depth chart. He practiced with the second-team offense on Monday and had several catches. Dortch had been working almost exclusively with the third and fourth teams.