The New York Jets hit the field at MetLife Stadium for the first time during this training camp. It may be billed as a scrimmage but in many ways it will be an important walk-thru for a season where the set-up will be vastly different in years past due to COVID-19.
In a season with no fans at home games for the Jets, there are other logistical issues that the team wants to walk-thru with the season now two weeks away.
“What we're trying to do is just get the guys who start,” Gase said Saturday on a virtual press conference.
“This is what our stadium is going to be, how it's going to be set up. There are some different things that we've got to go through. Just with the social distance rules saying just how we're going to do it. Everything from getting there and getting ready, coming out. We'll try to give the guys a little feel and what halftime is going to be like.”
Gase said recent injuries, specifically in the wide receiver group, has made scrimmages difficult to depth issues and bodies available. But the decision to not scrimmage wasn’t solely influenced on the growing list of injured players.
“Just want to get some situational stuff in there,” Gase said. “Kind of want to get that ‘halftime feel’ going. I still want to be able to do some red zone stuff. We'll still do some kind of ones versus twos, towards the end. It's just trying to maybe just change it up a little bit give a little different feel, you know, being in the stadium.”
The decision by the NFL and the NFL Players Association to cancel all preseason games due to COVID-19 restrictions has changed the major dynamic for a preseason. The NFL has had a finite number of practices and no action against another team to prepare for the regular season.
While the lack of preseason games has made it harder for teams to prepare, it is hard to argue that the COVID-19 protocols have worked out wonderfully. From August 12 to August 20, a total of 23,260 tests were administered to NFL players and there were zero positive tests.
Now, Sunday’s practice offers rookies like starting left tackle Mekhi Becton will get their first chance to work out on the field. Gase believes that is an experience that players need to learn before the season starts.
“We've got a bunch of rookies that I've never been through an NFL halftime,” Gase said. “That's a quick turnaround. It's like, by the time you get in, you've got about four minutes to make adjustments, talk to the team, all right. Deal with all the things you gotta deal with, whether it be a good reshapes, fix something equipment-wise, you know, having a discussion with your position coach. A lot of things that happen in a short period of time.”