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Denzel Mims working with Jets' third team, but don't read too much into it

Denzel Mims of the Jets runs a reception

Denzel Mims of the Jets runs a reception during the fourth quarter against Kyle Van Noy of the Dolphins at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 29, 2020. Credit: Jim McIsaac

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Zach Wilson throwing to Denzel Mims isn’t something that’s happened too often early on at Jets training camp.

Mims has taken very limited reps with the first-team offense. The second-year receiver has been playing mostly with the third team, which has been perhaps the most surprising development thus far.

Jets new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said Mims – who missed most of OTAs with an illness – is "getting up to speed" with the offense and he just needs to keep working. LaFleur also said not to read too much into who’s playing with who just yet.

"He’s learning, he’s getting better," LaFleur said Wednesday. "I told him the other day, ‘The more you’re on your stuff the more opportunities you’re going to get. The more you’re on your stuff the more you’re going to be able to be the Denzel Mims that we all know.’ What I’ve really liked is he’s responded the last few days.

"He’s had a better few days and he just needs to keep on getting at it and be the best he can be every single day."

Mims, a second-round pick, missed training camp and the first six games last year after injuring both hamstrings. He started eight of the nine games he played for the Jets, catching 23 passes for 357 yards. The 6-3 Mims made some strong contested catches, showing great hands and strength to pull down the ball in traffic.

Expectations were high for the Mims coming into camp, but it appears he’s got some ground to make up in what has become a deep and talented receiving room.

The Jets’ three top receivers last year were Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman and Mims. General manager Joe Douglas did a good job of improving the position by signing veterans Corey Davis and Keelan Cole and drafting Elijah Moore in the second round.

Davis, Cole and Crowder are projected to be the Jets’ starting receivers. Moore has a shot as well. He has impressed thus far with his playmaking abilities and speed. His performance and his chemistry with Wilson have been the talk of camp.

Vyncint Smith, Jeff Smith, Braxton Berrios and D.J. Montgomery also have had some good moments through the first seven practices. Mims hasn’t flashed much in LaFleur’s system. But he had a nice reception Wednesday, ripping a tipped pass away from rookie cornerback Jason Pinnock in the end zone during one-on-one drills.

"It’s a competitive group from top to bottom," LaFleur said. "You look out there with the ones and you’re going to see Corey and Jamison, they’ve played a lot of ball in this league and they’ve done a lot of good things.

"If you go right down that list, I don’t care if it’s with the twos or threes, the way we script with receivers it doesn’t matter what offensive line they’re in with, a lot of times it doesn’t matter what quarterbacks they’re in with."

LaFleur said the Jets are trying to put the receivers in all different positions and situations so they can evaluate everyone.

The system LaFleur brought with him from San Francisco is a run heavy offense, and the receivers are asked to do different things from where they line up to how they block than in other offenses. Coach Robert Saleh said Mims is still getting used to that.

"It’s not just playing out in space and having easy releases and having wiggle room," Saleh said. "There’s a lot more fighting for leverage. There’s a lot more lower half (of the body). And then there’s the blocking aspect of it. The strain we ask these guys to block frontside and backside.

"He’s been doing a really good job," Saleh said. "He’s put together some really good practices here and he’s earning more and more shots and opportunities at getting some balls thrown his way."

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