There wasn’t much good to take from the Jets 31-12 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, but the contributions of a couple of young players who had previously failed to show a whole lot is worth keeping an eye on. Second-year tight end Jordan Leggett and rookie defensive lineman Nathan Shepherd each had solid performances in the embarrassing loss.
Leggett’s performance was more obvious than Shepherd as he hauled in not only his first NFL reception, but his first ever TD as a pro. It came on a toss from Sam Darnold inside the five-yard line to the back of the end zone where Leggett came wide open and kept his feet in bounds. It was a long time coming for Leggett who appeared in just one game before going on season-ending IR as a rookie and battled injuries early in camp this season. On the day, Leggett was targeted three times on short passes, catching all three for just 12 yards, but still a step in the right direction.
Meanwhile, Shepherd had been a non-factor through the team’s first few contests but then managed to pick up a couple of quarterback pressures against Blake Bortles and got some push against the run.
As a small school product out of Fort Hays State, a fast start to the season was unlikely for Shepherd as he adjusts to life in the NFL, but on Sunday he looked more like a guy who belonged than he did in previous weeks. His performance earned him an overall pro football focus grade of 77.0 along with what was his highest snap total of the season with 39.
Small sample sizes and limited results, but still a couple of steps in the right direction.