Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner (1) covers Atlanta Falcons tight end...

Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner (1) covers Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (8) on December 3, 2023. Credit: /Lee S. Weissman

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Sauce Gardner led all cornerbacks in fan voting for the Pro Bowl last season, a mark of the respect he quickly earned as a Jets rookie.

In early balloting this year, released earlier this week, he did not make the top 10.

As Gardner himself wrote in a post on “X,” “Sheeeesh,” followed by three crying with laughter emojis.

The Jets' stellar defense did not get much love, with only safety Jordan Whitehead (eighth) and linebacker Quincy Williams (seventh) in the top 10 at his position.

Fan voting runs through Dec. 25 and counts for only a third of the final decision, so there is a long way to go in this process. But still . . . no juice for Sauce?

“That’s fine. I know what we do in the secondary,” Gardner said after practice on Friday in a session with reporters that was more playful than angry.

“I know other fan bases, they don’t like me because of what I do on the field to their favorite receivers and to their fantasy football [teams] or whatever. They’ll be tweeting at me on Twitter about it.”

Gardner added, “It ain’t all about Pro Bowl votes. Of course, it’s good to go to the Pro Bowl and I would like to go again, but at the end of the day, I just enjoy being on this field with my brothers.”

Teams seem to be avoiding Gardner’s side of the field as often as ever, so when players and coaches weigh in later this month, he presumably will fare just fine Pro Bowl-wise.

But for now, Gardner is embracing his role as an opponent other teams’ fans do not like. He said he enjoys it and expected it.

Why? Because last year, even though he was drafted fourth overall, he came out of a non-powerhouse college program with a cute nickname to boot. Not so much now.

“I came from Cincinnati, so when you’re in the pre-draft process, they’re like, he’s going be the underdog,” Gardner said. “Then when you get to New York and you are making plays, it’s like, I’m making plays and I was the underdog they said I was going to be.

“Now they don’t really like when I get to making plays. That’s just how it is.”

Last season, when he was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Gardner had two interceptions and 20 passes defended. This season he has no interceptions and seven PDs.

Against the Texans on Sunday, he will get an-person look at the No. 3 overall pick in 2022: cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., who has four interceptions in his past three games.

“He’s a great ballhawk,” Jets receiver Garrett Wilson said of Stingley.

Some on social media have derisively called Gardner “PI merchant” for allegedly getting away with pass interference that is not called.

“It’s pretty cool, because it’s a whole different fan base, but they’re worried about what I’m doing,” he said. “Hey, it’s like Coach [Robert] Saleh said, ‘We ain’t got no haters, we ain’t poppin’.”

Notes & quotes: WR Jason Brownlee (ankle) and OL Wes Schweitzer (calf) are out, meaning yet another offensive line deployment. “I thought last year was the worst it’s ever been,” Saleh said of injuries on the line. He said it was “carnage” in 2022 and that he needs a new word to describe 2023 . . . Garrett Wilson said he “didn’t really have much of a reaction” to the news that Zach Wilson will return at quarterback. “Trying to figure something out,” he said. “Trying to gain some traction on offense.” . . . Garrett Wilson is not a fan of Sunday’s weather report. “I’m very tired of rain games,” he said.

More Jets

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months