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Jets, coach Robert Saleh downplay Aaron Rodgers' absence from mandatory minicamp

Antwan Staley, New York Daily News on

Published in Football

NEW YORK — Jets coach Robert Saleh made the surprise announcement on Tuesday morning that Aaron Rodgers was an unexcused absence for mandatory minicamp.

Saleh told reporters Rodgers had a “very important event” this week that conflicted with the Jets’ camp.

On Wednesday, Jets cornerback D.J. Reed was asked about Rodgers’ absence and how it affected the locker room.

“Honestly, bro, AR [Rodgers] has been here for the majority of OTAs,” Reed said. “He has been here before I was here. I think he was here the first day, Phase 1, Phase 2. He has been here for the majority of practices that weren’t mandatory.

“I think I seen something that Saleh said that AR had something important he had to attend and that’s our quarterback. If it’s important to him, it’s important to us. It’s really not a big deal.”

After he announced Rodgers would not be present for the mandatory minicamp, Saleh received plenty of criticism from TV pundits and fans on social media. It is unknown where Rodgers is at this time.

Saleh told reporters that Rodgers informed him before OTAs that he would miss mandatory minicamp. The only other player not in attendance during the two-day session was pass rusher Haason Reddick, who many believe is holding out due to a contract dispute.

Reddick, 29, is in the final year of his contract, which is scheduled to pay him $14.2 million in base salary. He has no remaining guaranteed money on his contract.

On Wednesday afternoon, Reddick broke his silence on X.com, the former Twitter.

“Stop believing the foolery y’all see on these social media apps and news outlets,” Reddick said. “Running crazy narratives and y’all eating it up.”

Under the CBA both Rodgers and Reddick are subject to fines that could be more than $50,000. Rodgers, 40, has been working to return from a season-ending Achilles tear he suffered four plays into the season debut against the Bills last September.

A day after the season ended in January, Rodgers told reporters the Jets needed to learn how to eliminate distractions..“If you want to be a winning organization and to put yourself in position to win championships and be competitive, everything you do matters and the bulls--- that has nothing to do with winning needs to get out of the building,” Rodgers said. “That will be the focus moving forward. That’s the focus of these conversations.”

Saleh downplayed Rodgers’ absence when he spoke on Wednesday.

 

“We talked about it yesterday, but Aaron and I are on the exact same page,” Saleh said. “There is no issue between Aaron or his teammates for that matter.

“Like I said, we addressed it yesterday. It’s more of an issue for everyone outside of the building than it is inside and that’s about it.”

Practice report

With Rodgers out for the second consecutive day, Tyrod Taylor continued to engineer the Jets’ offense and had a much better day under center. Taylor completed 11-of-15 passes during 11-on-11 drills. He led the Jets on two long drives, one resulting in an Allen Lazard touchdown inside the red zone.

It’s no secret Lazard is looking for a bounce-back 2024 campaign after arguably the worst season of his career. After signing a four-year, $44 million contract during the offseason of 2023, Lazard finished with 23 catches for 311 yards and one touchdown for the Jets.

Some of his lack of production can be attributed to Rodgers missing all but four plays last season. However, Lazard’s dropped passes and missed assignments were major reasons he was a healthy scratch for two games, including the season finale victory against the Patriots.

Lazard, 29, will earn a guaranteed $10 million this year, so the Jets are hoping for better production from him.

“I feel like Allen has come in with a renewed mindset,” Saleh said. “It is not the first time and it won’t be the last time a free agent gets a big contract, goes to another team with expectations, new city, new players and kind of falters a little bit.

“You dig yourself into a hole, and this is really hard to get out of. I think he has attacked the heck out of the offseason. He has shown up in tremendous shape. He is like a second coach in that receiver room. So grateful that he’s here and I’m looking forward to him. I think he is going to have a really nice bounceback here.”

Rookie cornerback Qwan’tez Stiggers, a promising talent, intercepted a pass from Andrew Peasley. Stiggers has been a standout performer during OTAs and mandatory minicamp this spring, showcasing his impressive coverage skills against Jets receivers, including Lazard. If he continues to develop in the Jets’ defensive system, he could make a significant impact on the field this upcoming season.

Adding to the excitement, rookie running back Braelon Allen continues to make a strong impression. He sprinted for a long 20-plus yard gain on a handoff from Taylor. The competition for the backup running back position behind Breece Hall will be a captivating storyline to follow during training camp.

Israel Abanikanda, a 2023 fifth-round pick, will have to fight for his job because Allen, fellow rookie Isaiah Davis, and second-year running back Xazavian Valladay all made standout plays during the Jets offseason program.


©2024 New York Daily News. Visit nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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