FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Denzel Mims waited a long time before his hamstring felt good enough for him to get on the practice field.
The New York Jets rookie wide receiver left no doubt as to whether he’ll be healthy enough to play in the season opener.
“Most definitely,” a confident Mims said Wednesday after participating in his first practice of training camp.
The second-round draft pick out of Baylor had been sidelined all of camp after injuring a hamstring a few days before the team’s first practice on Aug. 14. Mims had been gradually working his way back, with the Jets being cautious as to not re-injure his hamstring.
On Wednesday, he participated in individual drills and the team plans to increase his workload in the days leading up to the Jets’ opening game at Buffalo on Sept. 13.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen him get to run routes live,” coach Adam Gase said. “It was good to see him moving around. He looked like he was running well. I know we didn’t do anything crazy, but just moving around and hitting the routes we hit in individuals, that was good to see.”
Mims is expected to be a key part of the Jets’ offense this season, providing Sam Darnold with a speedy deep threat to complement projected starters Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman. But until Wednesday, the rookie couldn’t do much more than study in the classroom and watch from the sideline during practice.
“It feels amazing,” Mims said. “It felt really good to compete at practice, get back in a rhythm and get my feet wet a little, catch some balls and just be out there with my teammates.”
Mims acknowledged it was “very frustrating” having to be sidelined to start his first NFL camp, but remained patient until he got the go-ahead from the trainers and doctors.
“I just wanted to come out there and do what I was supposed to do and just practice,” Mims said. “I’ve never had to sit out this long. I’ve never had anything like this.”
Gase said the Jets will monitor his snaps in practice while also try to get him up to speed quickly.
“The fact that he’s been doing as much cardio as he’s been doing and trying to make sure he’s in the kind of shape we need him in,” Gase said, “we’re going to have to build it up, but we need him to put things on fast-forward mentally.”
New York’s wide receiver group has been hit hard by injuries this summer. While Mims is on the way back, Perriman (knee), Vyncint Smith (core muscle) and Jeff Smith (shoulder) remain sidelined. Braxton Berrios also missed practice Wednesday with tightness in his lower back.
Perriman has missed several days, but Gase is not overly concerned yet. The veteran receiver, who was signed to a one-year, $8 million deal in the offseason, is still experiencing swelling in his injured knee. And MRI showed no serious damage, but it still remains uncertain when Perriman will be able to practice again.
“We’re just trying to make sure that he feels good,” Gase said. “I mean, every time he goes out and runs, it’s certain things he feels good with and then he’ll have just one cut or something where he’s like, ‘Ahh.’ We’ve just got to keep the swelling down and we’ve got to get him feeling right.”
NOTES: CB Pierre Desir participated in team drills for the first time since camp began after dealing with a hamstring injury. … LG Alex Lewis sat out with a shoulder injury after getting tied up with a defensive lineman during practice Tuesday. “We’ll kind of see how bad it is,” Gase said. “I don’t think there’s any structural damage. I think he’s really sore.” Josh Andrews replaced Lewis with the starters. … TE Chris Herndon (chest) and WR Lawrence Cager (knee) were back at practice, as were WRs Jamison Crowder and Chris Hogan, who left Tuesday with what Gase said was “tightness.” … Rookie OL Cameron Clark left practice with a knee injury and was being evaluated. … LB Tarell Basham (ankle) and DL Jabari Zuniga (quadriceps) were limited. … S Marcus Maye (calf), RB La’Mical Perine (ankle) and OL Conor McDermott remained sidelined.
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