FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Breece Hall is on a side field, running on his own. He’s coming back from a torn ACL that derailed his rookie season, but the Jets’ explosive back is making tremendous progress.
Robert Saleh said he’s “very optimistic” that Hall will be ready for the season opener Sept. 11. Hall wants to be, and the way he’s moving, he feels he’s getting closer to being the player he was last year.
“The recovery part has been going so well,” Hall said Wednesday at OTAs. "It’s going to be interesting. I’ve had glimpses just in these past two weeks of me cutting and just running where I’m starting to feel like my old self again.”
Hall, the 36th overall pick in the 2022 draft, was off to a terrific start to his rookie season when he tore his ACL in Week 7 at Denver. He was the Jets’ leading rusher (463 yards) despite missing the last 10 games, and finished with 681 scrimmage yards and five touchdowns.
He still jokes with Garrett Wilson that he wouldn’t have won Offensive Rookie of the Year had Hall remained healthy. Hall may be right. But his return is just another reason the Jets are excited about this season — and Hall can’t wait to be all the way back.
“My expectation is always be the best me I can,” Hall said. “Just knowing that I’m one of the most dynamic playmakers on the team, if I am fully healthy, I expect me to be back to myself at some point. I just want to be that same Breece.”
"That same Breece" could be even better now that he will have a future Hall of Fame quarterback giving him the ball. Hall, like many of his teammates, has really hit it off with Aaron Rodgers. Hall said the two talk and joke with each other all the time.
“He’s a jokester,” Hall said. “He’s really cool, really funny. Me and him, actually we make fun of each other a lot so it’s been cool to be around him."
Hall said the first time they talked was in the weight room, and Rodgers said he was excited to play with Hall. The two attended a Rangers’ playoff game, and talk all the time, whether in the weight room, trainer’s room or on the field. Hall said they have a lot of “inside jokes.”
The two could have a lot of fun together on the field this season, too. By all accounts, Hall is doing well in his recovery. Saleh said they’ve had to hold him back a little because of how well he’s progressing.
“He looks good. He’s one of those kids that we’ve kind of had to hold back from him because there a process," Saleh said. "It’s weird to say it but you don’t want to heal too fast from an ACL. You’ve got to be able to balance that with the strength.
“He looks strong. He looks powerful. He’s learning. I’m excited for him to get back on the field. I feel like he won’t need to be limited during training camp even though we still will. Just to be conscientious and cautious with him. But he looks awesome.”
Saleh said Hall already is “hitting over 22 [mph] on the GPS.” Hall said he hit 23 last year in training camp so his speed is just about back. He still wants to make sure he can make all the moves and cuts that led to his success last year.
“They told me the speed is going to be back so I’m not too worried about that,” said Hall, who averaged 5.8 yards per carry last season. “For me it’s being able to cut like I did.”
Hall said he spoke to other established backs, including Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey and Derrick Henry, about returning from major injury. They told him how important it is to stay mentally strong and push through obstacles every day.
“That meant a lot just for those guys to recognize me and that made me feel like I was doing something good,” Hall said. “I came in wanting to be one of those top backs in the league and I felt like I was trending that way, so to get the respect from those guys meant a lot.”