When Denzel Mims was healthy during his rookie season last year, the wideout flashed boundless potential.
The Baylor product showed playmaking ability, making contested grabs streaking down the sideline or flexing his catch radius over the middle in traffic.
One year later, the talent is still there, but the playing time for Mims has vanished.
The wide receiver was a healthy scratch on Sunday, inactive for New York’s blowout loss against the Patriots. He and Jamison Crowder were the only wideouts sidelined.
Rather than citing a nagging injury that flared up in practice—as was the case for Crowder and his groin—Jets head coach Robert Saleh delivered a much longer answer when asked after the game about the decision to sit Mims.
“It’s the same thing that we’ve talked about,” Saleh said. “When you’re looking at your fourth or fifth receivers, you’ve got to be reliable in regards to multiple positions, you’ve got to be able to play special teams.”
Mims missed time this offseason, working back from an illness. By the time he returned with a clean bill of health, his spot on the depth chart in a much-improved wide receiver room had plummeted.
Rather than serving as one of Sam Darnold’s top targets a year ago, Mims has been leapfrogged by new faces, trying to make up for lost time with rookie quarterback Zach Wilson and a fresh coaching staff in a new scheme.
As brutal as it may be for Mims, Saleh didn’t beat around the bush. Until Mims can prove that he can play special teams and fill in at other positions, New York isn’t going to activate him on Sundays.
“If he can capitalize off of what he did this week in practice], I don’t anticipate this being much longer,” Saleh explained. “But at the same time, I don’t see Jeff [Smith] and Keelan [Cole] and all those guys relenting. They are every bit of being deserving of being on the football field too.”
Again, part of this unfortunate truth for Mims is a result of the additions the Jets made at wide receiver this offseason. Corey Davis is a No. 1 wideout, Cole is another veteran signed in free agency, New York brought back Crowder (who led this team in practically every category on offense a year ago) and rookie Elijah Moore was a star in training camp. Factor in Braxton Berrios, who has been magnificent to start the season, and Mims is right there at the bottom with Smith.
Saleh recognized that it’s a good problem to have for the Jets, carrying all these capable wideouts, but Mims will need to keep building in practice (or wait for one of those aforementioned players to get hurt) if he wants in-game snaps.
“We’re an organization where it doesn’t matter, you have to earn your keep, you have to earn your playing time,” he said. “All those guys who are putting in that work too. Not to say that he’s not, but he’s got to be better than them. And as soon as that happens, he’ll be active.”
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