CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The depth of the Jets’ defensive line was on display Saturday and it was scary.
Playing without four of their top defensive linemen, the Jets still were camped out in the Panthers’ backfield all day long.
It seemed like one player after another made plays against Carolina’s offense.
“Those guys love the game of football and they play their absolute tails off and they feed off one another,” head coach Robert Saleh said after the Jets’ 27-0 preseason win over the Panthers. “They cheer for one another and they take pride. We talk about it on defense all the time, we go as they go.”
Starters Quinnen Williams, Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers and Al Woods did not even play, but the Jets managed eight quarterback hits and five sacks.
Quinton Jefferson, Will McDonald, Bruce Hector, Deslin Alexandre all had sacks and Jermaine Johnson and Bryce Huff split one.
Johnson said they have embraced their role as the unit that makes the defense go.
“We take that as an honor,” Johnson, who had two quarterback hits, said. “We look forward to doing that every game, setting the tone. As you saw today, we can do that.”
Jets backup quarterback Zach Wilson, who practices against the defensive line every day, marveled at their intensity.
“Those guys are psychos,” Wilson said. “The way they train them and teach them, they’re psychos up there. They do a really good job. That’s a position that they are training to be violent and you can definitely see it on the field. I agree with coach Saleh. The hardest thing for a quarterback to play efficiently when you’re getting pressure, especially pressure when you’re not even bringing extra guys, when you have four guys up front that can get pressure on the quarterback it’s going to be a long day. I think those guys are doing an awesome job. It’s big for our team to have that.”
OT Mekhi Becton made a huge leap in playing time this week.
Becton played 27 snaps after he was on the field for just seven in the Hall of Fame Game.
Becton did not start Saturday, but entered the game in the second quarter and played into the third.
“I’m proud of him,” Saleh said. “He fought through. Obviously, got in a lot of reps. He actually played a heck of a lot more than we were planning. He wanted to go more, which is promising. I am proud of him. He took a really, really big step today. I really don’t care what the film looks like. For him to build that confidence with the knee, like I’ve said, that’s important. It feels like he took that right step today.”
TE Jeremy Ruckert injured his left shoulder. Saleh said it was an AC joint injury and he was optimistic that Ruckert would be OK.
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