FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Jermaine Johnson was a first-round pick this year and is someone the Jets believe will make an impact, but he treats every practice as if he’s trying to make a team.
“I practice like I’m a free agent,” Johnson said Saturday.
Robert Saleh has been impressed with the way Johnson “has attacked practice.” The edge rusher from Florida State has the mentality that nothing is given, everything is earned. That’s his approach every day.
“I’m fighting for my life,” Johnson said. “That’s how I am. That’s how I believe in how I practice. It lines up perfectly with what Coach Saleh’s all about, just practicing hard, giving 110% for not only yourself but your team, your brothers beside you.”
The Jets used their two first-round picks on cornerback Sauce Gardner and receiver Garrett Wilson. Then they traded back into the first round to take Johnson at No. 26.
Johnson will be a part of the Jets’ deep defensive line rotation, but he will get an opportunity to show he can help them. He’s been focusing on getting better at one thing each practice, and he is noticing results.
Johnson uses his quickness and athleticism to his advantage. The Jets want him to use his power more and become a more complete edge rusher.
“His mental makeup, his athleticism, his hand-eye coordination, all that stuff is awesome,” Saleh said. “It’s just going to be a matter of time before he ties it all together with power and he becomes exactly who we think he’ll be.”
Starters or backups?
Saleh said he is “torn” about whether to play his starters or the backups in Monday night’s preseason game against the Falcons. He’s gone back and forth with that. Saleh said players dream of playing on Monday Night Football and he wants them to experience that, but he also must look at the big picture.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to give our guys the opportunity to go through the mental aspect of a heightened environment and something that they dream of so they can manage Week 1,” he said. “I’m torn on that one.”
Saleh said it’s conceivable he could play mostly backups.
New left tackle Duane Brown continues to work on the side. Saleh said Brown will get in team drills next week . . . The starting offensive line still hasn’t played a snap together. Saleh is confident they have time to jell before the Sept. 11 opener . . . Safety LaMarcus Joyner was back working in team portions after missing time with an illness.