New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers talks to reporters after...

New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers talks to reporters after a practice at the NFL football team's training facility in Florham Park, N.J., Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Credit: AP/Seth Wenig

Aaron Rodgers has some different faces sitting next to him in meetings and inside the Jets’ locker room, and he likes the changes.

Coach Robert Saleh has been present more often in offensive meetings, giving ideas and providing additional insight on how defenses would attack Rodgers and the system. Rodgers has his new left tackle, Tyron Smith, sitting next to him in the locker room. Right tackle Morgan Moses is within earshot as well.

Rosters change every year, but this offseason, the Jets focused primarily on fixing the things that needed fixing. They had Super Bowl dreams heading into last season, but they feel even more confident now that they can be contenders.

“I think we’re ahead of where we were last year,” Rodgers said. “A second year in the offense helps. The veteran leadership helps a lot, too. I don’t think you can [underestimate] that with Tyron and Big Moses and then bringing John [Simpson] in as well, those guys who played a lot of football.”

The Jets’ playoff dreams were shattered when Rodgers tore his left Achilles tendon four offensive snaps into last season. Rodgers’ return is a reason for optimism, but the changes are, too.

Smith, Moses and Simpson were acquired to strengthen the offensive line. That was a major issue last season. The Jets have to protect Rodgers and keep him upright. They also drafted left tackle Olu Fashanu in the first round.

Rodgers has enjoyed having “a front-row seat” and seeing second-year tackle Carter Warren asking Moses questions and Fashanu picking Smith’s brain. The former Cowboy has missed 37 games in the past four years, but he’s an elite tackle when healthy. Rodgers looks forward to playing with Smith, an eight-time Pro Bowler.

“I’ve been a fan of his for a long time,” Rodgers said. “He’s a Hall of Fame player. He’s a specimen. He’s a big, strong man, not a fat man either . . . Tyron, he’s pretty chiseled.

“Obviously, him and I want to stay healthy this year, be able to play all 17 and then the playoffs.”

The Jets also gave Rodgers more weapons and pass-catchers who will take some attention away from Garrett Wilson. They signed Mike Williams and drafted Malachi Corley.

Williams averaged 949.5 receiving yards from 2019-22 as the Chargers’ No. 2 option. He’s recovering from an ACL tear suffered in Week 3 last year.

Corley is learning a whole new system and the different positions and roles the receivers have in it. At Western Kentucky, he literally made a name for himself for gaining yards after the catch. “YAC King” was Corley’s nickname.

“Those guys have a long way to go,” Rodgers said. “Mike is getting healthy, Malachi, everything’s new to him and there’s new positions and new language and stuff. He looks the part. I enjoy his confidence. I heard what he said pre-draft. It wasn’t like what corners he wanted to go against, it’s what players he wanted to run over is kind of his mindset.”

Saleh said the “newness” from last year is mostly gone and the players are talking things through more than asking questions. Even with new faces, the Jets expect more continuity and believe they’ll be better equipped for injuries this season. They signed Tyrod Taylor, a proven veteran backup to Rodgers, which was something the Jets didn’t have last year.

“It’s about building an offense that can weather the storm of injury,” Saleh said. “Last year we kind of got caught behind the 8-ball.”

On the defensive side, the Jets lost productive defensive linemen John Franklin-Myers and Bryce Huff but added edge rusher Haason Reddick, who has had 50.5 sacks the past four seasons, and tackle Javon Kinlaw, a former first-round pick of the 49ers.

“Love those signings,” Rodgers said. “It’s time for the players to continue to take ownership of the locker room and the team. Player-led teams give you the best chance to win. Even though there’s obviously a lot of heat on all of us, it’s important for us to balance that by really taking ownership and accountability inside the locker room.”

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