This season has been full of adversity for second-year wideout Denzel Mims.
The receiver was sidelined with an illness this spring, impacting his ability to compete for playing time in a loaded wide receiver room. Then, after finally working his way into New York's rotation on offense after he was inactive in multiple games—and surviving the trade deadline—the 24-year-old tested positive for COVID-19, unable to contribute while battling symptoms.
That said, as Mims returns from his case of the virus, it looks like the receiver will have another opportunity to prove himself between the lines and help his team in Week 13 against the Eagles.
Wideout Keelan Cole recently tested positive for COVID-19 and top receiver Corey Davis is questionable with a groin injury. With two key contributors potentially out on Sunday, Mims is the next man up.
"He’s looked good. He’s got that big smile running around, he had a lot of energy," head coach Robert Saleh told reporters when asked about Mims' presence in practice on Friday. "It looked like he had fresh legs. We’re excited to get him out on the football field to give him an opportunity to make some plays."
Mims addressed the media on Friday as well, assuring that he's feeling better physically and mentally and that he hopes people continue to wear masks because he doesn't wish COVID-19 on anybody.
The receiver recalled a week full of COVID-related symptoms, from body aches to a struggle keeping food down. After that, it was another week of quarantine, waiting for a negative test as the symptoms began to dissipate.
"Took two weeks for me to get over COVID and then it took another week to get back into shape, get my wind back and stuff like that," Mims explained. "This week was the first week for me to be back on the field. I feel like things went good this week, I feel like had a good week of practice. Just gotta keep preparing myself for Sunday."
After a promising rookie year, Mims has accumulated just 129 receiving yards on seven catches over six games. In large part, he's been relegated to the Jets' sideline even when activated, typically watching as other wideouts get snaps.
Jets' offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur has faith that even if Mims has missed time with his case of COVID-19—he hasn't played since Week 9 against the Colts—the wideout is in a position to make an impact on Sunday.
"He’s had a good week of practice, excited for him. I was really pumped for the strides he was making, particularly in this offense again, like I’ve said, just missing those OTAs, missing some time in training camp, not having the amount of snaps that we all wanted for him early on," LaFleur said. "Then he got comfortable with it and I was really looking forward to it. Not only was he getting comfortable with the offense, but making the plays.
"All we want for him to do right now is go, line up, play as fast as you can. When the ball comes your way, you go make that play like we all know he can."
Mims hasn't just been itching to get back onto the field with his teammates, he's eager to play well and distance himself from his previous performance in a loss to Indianapolis.
The Baylor product was targeted a season-high five times in that game, but he only came away with one reception (for 20 yards). Failing to make plays, and dropping a pass, Mims is as motivated as ever to continue to persevere and show why he's deserving of playing time going forward.
"I wasn't happy with my performance, I left a lot on the field," he said. "I can't get myself down, though. Just got to keep going forward, accept the things I went through that game and just keep pushing forward. Keep my mind in position and come ready to play on Sunday."
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