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Jets' Greg Van Roten says he's learning things from rookie Zach Wilson

Greg Van Roten #62 and Cameron Clark #72

Greg Van Roten #62 and Cameron Clark #72 of the Jets during morning practice at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on July 28, 2021 in Florham Park, New Jersey. Credit: Getty Images/Rich Schultz

Offensive lineman Greg Van Roten is one of the oldest players on the Jets’ roster, and he’s learning things from one of the youngest.

The 31-year-old Van Roten said 22-year-old rookie Zach Wilson has taught him something about preparation.

"He’s a rookie in name only," Van Roten said. "He prepares. He watches so much film. I’ve watched him watch those cut-ups, I’ve been in the league a long time, and I’m like, ‘How did you get that filtered that way?’ He’s teaching me some stuff when it comes to preparing for opponents."

Wilson has a very detailed way he prepares for games that involves sorting his film cut-ups a certain way. Wilson’s process has impressed everyone. Robert Saleh said it’s "light years ahead" of most rookies.

Now Wilson is preparing for his NFL debut, next Sunday in Carolina against the Panthers and former Jets quarterback Sam Darnold. After a strong training camp and preseason, this will be Wilson’s first time facing a starting defense in a game.

The Panthers will throw looks and coverages at Wilson that he hasn’t seen before, different than what they put in tape in the preseason. But Van Roten, a former Chaminade High School star, believes Wilson will be just "fine" when he sees those "unscouted looks."

Van Roten said all the work that Wilson puts in on the field and off of it will help him in Week 1, and the rest of the Jets will have his back.

"I’m not worried about what he’s going to see and how he’s going to react," Van Roten said. "(Offensive coordinator Mike) LaFleur is going to put him in the best position possible to be successful. Then it’s up to us as a line and a unit on offense to block our guys, get open, make plays and not put the game’s solely in Zach’s hands."

Van Roten is excited for his second season with the Jets, and playing in the outside zone blocking scheme LaFleur runs. The Rockville Centre native grew up a Jets fan and wants nothing more than to help them end their 10-year playoff drought.

The Jets are very young team, though. Twenty-one players on the current active roster are rookies or second-year players. Van Roten is the second-oldest, 46 days younger than tight end Ryan Griffin.

Van Roten will be returning to his old home when the Jets are in Carolina. He spent three years with the Panthers, from 2017-19, after bouncing around the NFL and Canada.

"I’m excited," said Van Roten, who began his career as an undrafted free agent with Green Bay in 2012. "Carolina is kind of where I made my breakthrough after a little stint in Canada. Definitely excited to go back."

Van Roten also is looking forward to seeing Darnold. They were teammates last year, and Van Roten always spoke highly of Darnold. Van Roten wishes Darnold well, except for next week.

"I want to beat him obviously," Van Roten said. "But I hope he does well down there in Carolina. I think that’s a good system for him. I want him to do well just not so well when we play against him. I’m excited for him and I wish him nothing but the best."

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