New York Jets tight end Tyler Conklin has enjoyed a particularly fruitful training camp. Conklin was excellent throughout organized team activities (OTAs) and has carried that momentum over to padded practices. Conklin could emerge as a secret weapon in the Jets’ new-look passing attack. Jets head coach Robert Saleh recently praised Conklin’s efforts.
“Conk has been fantastic for us,” Saleh said following the Jets’ Green and White scrimmage on Saturday. “The whole [tight end] group really has been really good for us, but as far as he’s concerned, just his ability on third down to create separation and win those one-on-one’s and be a run blocker, he’s an all-around tight end. He’s been a pleasant surprise.”
Conklin signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Jets in free agency earlier this offseason. Fellow free-agent tight end C.J. Uzomah joined the Jets via a lucrative contract of his own. The thought process intended to pair Conklin and Uzomah as a one-two punch, but so far it’s been Conklin that’s running away with the job.
Conklin has especially displayed immediate chemistry with sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson, which will be crucial to the Jets’ coaching staff dividing the workload at tight end. Surrounding Wilson with weapons that he trusts is the ultimate goal for a Jets franchise that’s deeply invested in his development as a quarterback. Right now, Conklin is emerging as one of his go-to receivers.
Conklin has routinely received praise throughout practice for his ability to create separation and get open underneath the coverage, particularly on third downs. A tight end that can move the chains is often a young quarterback’s best friend. At Saturday’s practice, Conklin totaled seven catches during team periods, including the only touchdown scored by the starting offense. Wilson is comfortable peppering Conklin with targets.
Jets general manager Joe Douglas revamped his passing attack this offseason in search of improvement. Conklin and Uzomah were big additions. The biggest reinforcement arrived via the 2022 NFL Draft when Douglas drafted former Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson with a top-10 selection. Wilson is expected to immediately slot into the Jets’ lineup.
Sophomore receiver Elijah Moore has also enjoyed an excellent training camp. Moore may begin the season as the Jets’ go-to receiver on the boundary. Corey Davis is also healthy and appears primed for a bigger second season in New York after his debut campaign as a Jet was derailed by injury. Davis is a towering target that’s fully capable of producing a 1,000-yard season when healthy and involved. Braxton Berrios also remains in the mix via a new two-year contract worth $12 million. The Jets didn’t pay Berrios $6 million annually to stash him on the bench.
The Jets will also aim to be a run-heavy team. It’s precisely why Douglas utilized a premium second-round selection on Breece Hall. Hall carries workhorse potential as a traditional back. Sophomore option Michael Carter is expected to be heavily involved on obvious passing downs.
All this to say there are a lot of mouths to feed in the Jets’ offense. An improved supporting cast around Wilson makes it difficult to predict how Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur will divide touches in the Jets’ passing attack. Developing chemistry alongside Wilson is crucial to the ultimate outcome, however, and Conklin is scoring clear victories in that department currently.
Conklin recorded 61 receptions for 593 passing yards and three touchdowns with the Minnesota Vikings in 2021. He could be in store for a similar workload with the Jets in 2022. An intriguing weapon in the red zone, it wouldn’t be shocking if Conklin enjoyed a career-best season in the receiving touchdowns category.
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