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Jets Corner Sauce Gardner Gears Up to Attack the Next Highest Mountain

Pro Bowler/All-Pro/Defensive Rookie of the Year: This Season 'I'll Be a Whole Different Version of Myself'

Jul 21, 2023  - Randy Lange

Detroit-born Sauce Gardner is giving new meaning to some half-century-old lyrics by old Motown faves Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. You know how it goes: "Ain't no mountain high enough..."

"I want to be the best version of me," Gardner, the NFL Pro Bowl cornerback, All-Pro and Defensive Rookie of the Year, said after Friday's second practice of training camp about what lies ahead in season two. "I was the best version of myself last year, but I had a whole offseason of working and making my weaknesses my strengths. This year I'll be a whole different version of myself."

The sky's the limit for this second season of Sauce. So says head coach Robert Saleh.

"That's what makes Sauce so special. Every play is personal," Saleh said. "He's trying to do his absolute best, there's no plays off, he's not getting bored, he's challenging himself every day. That's why I'm so excited to see what he does next, because he's just that type of guy that no mountain's high enough. He's just going to keep trying to climb."Gardner, the Jets' fourth overall pick in the draft, attacked last season with a passion. The stats are now etched in stone: His 20 passes defensed topped the NFL — the first time a rookie has led the league in PDs since Marcus Peters had 26 for the Chiefs in 2015. Gardner's (as well as fellow Jets CB D.J. Reed) by one measure was in the league's top four in lowest percentage of completions allowed for first downs.

One noticeable thing Gardner has discussed about improving is his interceptions. He wasn't alone in the Green & White secondary in low pick output last season but he's eager to top his two thefts in the coming campaign. But that's far from the only obstacle he seeks to climb."If I'm not perfect in something, then I consider it a weakness, so I worked on everything," he said. "Press footwork, off footwork, off mechanics, going to get the ball, lean and locate, being more physical in the run game, block and shed. I worked on literally any and everything you can think of. So I guess all of those things are weaknesses."

Where does Gardner's motivation come from? You name it.

"My mom, my family, getting a Super Bowl in my second year, Detroit. The list goes on," he said.But not on the list is getting fired up about social media, such as the slings and arrows from football critics and the flame war he and Darrelle Revis got into with former Pro Bowl CB Asante Samuel on Twitter earlier this month.

"I've just got to understand that some people, that's just what they do. Some people hate," he said. "That's something minor right there."But then adding Revis to the Sauce list is major. The Jets' legendary corner will be a first-ballot enshrinee in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 5 in Canton, OH, two days after the Jets play the Browns in the Hall of Fame Game.

"I just talked to him last week," he said, adding that Revis "was a guy I was always watching. Just to see him go into the Hall of Fame is great motivation, a true blessing for him, and it's great for the Jets organization in general."So let's recount. For Sauce Gardner, lying ahead are such possible rewards as Defensive MVP ("I've just got to do my job") and eventually the Hall of Fame ("most definitely" something he thinks about). But primarily, he said this season is not about him as much as it is about the team and their big quest.

"I'm just more team-oriented this year," he said. "I'm taking a whole different approach. I'm not saying I wasn't last year, but I just know we've got something special right now. You can tell how we are in meetings, how our bond is. My main focus is being a better teammate, doing whatever I can so we can win a Super Bowl."

"Whatever mountain he climbs, he's looking for the next highest mountain," Saleh said. "If he goes out and just does the best he can, it'll be good enough."

 >>  https://www.newyorkjets.com/news/jets-corner-sauce-gardner-gears-up-to-attack-the-next-highest-mountain

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Jets’ CB Sauce Gardner is focusing on improving his game, not his haters

Antwan Staley, New York Daily News  -  Fri, July 21, 2023

Rapper Eminem once said, “Behind every successful person lies a pack of haters.”That couldn’t be more of the truth for Jets cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner despite his outstanding rookie season in 2022.

Last year, Gardner was not only named a first-team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler, but he won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award. For all his accomplishments on the field, fans of opposing teams on social media hated on Gardner this offseason because they felt like he had too much contact with receivers on certain plays.

Recently, former Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel also tried to discredit Gardner by saying he was a creation of the New York media.“With some people, that’s just what they do,” Gardner said on Friday. “Some people hate, it’s weird to me because I know how we is in our corner room. When we are watching different corners, we are just trying to find ways to get better off their film. We not knocking anybody.

“Me personally, I wasn’t raised like that. I will never hate on the next man. I can’t control what other people do.”Recently, an ESPN-conducted poll of NFL players, coaches, scouts, and executives ranked Gardner as the second-best cornerback in the NFL. That sparked a debate on Twitter as Samuel replied that “the New York media will take your career to another level.” Gardner responded to Samuel’s tweets by pointing out the players, coaches, scouts, and executives who actually voted in the ESPN poll.

After being selected fourth overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, Gardner lived up to expectations snd then some. While Gardner typically didn’t follow No. 1 receivers around last year like some cornerbacks do, he along with Jets cornerback D.J. Reed shut down and helped contain some of the best in football.Gardner covered top receivers such as the Bills’ Stefon Diggs, Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill, and the Bengals Ja’Marr Chase just to name a few and none of those players had their best game of the season against Gardner as he finished 2022 with 75 tackles, 20 pass break ups, and two interceptions.

Although fans may target the second-year player on Twitter, Gardner says he doesn’t use his naysayers as motivation.“I got a lot of other stuff that motivates me,” Gardner said. “That stuff is small right there.“Where I come from, my mom, my family, getting a Super Bowl in my second year, Detroit, the list goes on. But that is one of the very few, that’s something minor right there.

Gardner and the Jets will try to continue to build on the success the defense had last season. Gang Green finished fourth in points and yards allowed.The Jets defense has gotten off to a good start during the first two days of training camp. So far, the Jets secondary has given their offense fits by deflection passes in the air and swarming receivers consistently.Gardner has high hopes for himself this season as not only is he trying to win a Super Bowl with the Jets, but he wants to win an MVP award, as no defensive player has claimed the honor since the Giants’Lawrence Taylor claimed the prize in 1986.

To try and become the NFL’s MVP, Gardner worked on several aspects of his game this offseason. That included his footwork in press coverage, off-ball footwork, going up to catch the ball, locating the ball, and being more physical in stopping the run.“I’m not a stat guy because you don’t put stats on anything, I’m sorry for the cliche answer, but he just needs to go be Sauce,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said. “Just show up every day, do your absolute best, whatever happens, happens, but the beautiful thing about him is he’s another one of those intrinsically motivated individuals.

“It’s amazing, I mean he cares, but I think he looks at it as motivation that he was Defensive Rookie of the Year, I think he wants more, so he’s just got a great mindset that whatever step, whatever mountain he’s climbed, he’s looking for the next highest one and if he goes out and just does the best he can, it’ll be good enough.”

 >>   https://www.yahoo.com/sports/jets-cb-sauce-gardner-focusing-205800936.html

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Top 10 cornerbacks entering the 2023 NFL season

Jul 26, 2023 -  Brian Baldinger
 
Rank
1
Sauce Gardner - New York Jets

The reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year has quickly ascended to the top of the NFL ranks at his position, covering receivers down the field with his length like a giant manta ray gliding through the ocean with its huge wings. According to PFF, Sauce allowed the lowest passer rating in coverage (53.9), the fewest receptions (34) and second-fewest receiving yards (361) among all defenders targeted at least 70 times last season. He challenges opponents using flawless technique -- whether in man or zone coverage -- to shut down his side of the field. Plus, he does so without committing many penalties.

rest of above article >>   https://www.nfl.com/news/top-10-cornerbacks-entering-the-2023-nfl-season

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Skyler Carlin  - August 2, 2023 

The New York Jets will kick off the NFL preseason on Thursday night in the Hall of Fame Game versus the Cleveland Browns. Following Thursday’s preseason opener, Sauce Gardner will remain in the Ohio area as he is set to officially graduate from the University of Cincinnati on Friday.

Former #Bearcats star athletes Sauce Gardner and Nick Van Exel are slated to graduate from the University of Cincinnati on Friday, the school confirmed to . Both will walk in an on-campus commencement ceremony. Details: https://theathletic.com/4742821/2023/08/02/sauce-gardner-nick-van-exel-cincinnati/

Before hearing his name called by the Jets with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft, Gardner spent three years at Cincinnati. In his three seasons at Cincinnati, the talented cornerback totaled 99 tackles, 16 pass breakups, nine interceptions, and two touchdowns.Gardner was the highest-drafted player in the program’s history and he was named the AAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2021. During his time at Cincinnati, he got a degree in interdisciplinary studies.

Upon entering the NFL, Gardner immediately became one of the premier cornerbacks in the league. While racking up 75 tackles, 20 pass breakups, and two interceptions in 2022 with the Jets, he was named the Defensive Rookie of the Year and received first-team All-Pro honors.At only 22 years old, Gardner has accomplished quite a bit and he’ll now add another impressive achievement on Friday when he walks the stage at Cincinnati.

 >>    https://jetswire.usatoday.com/2023/08/02/jets-sauce-gardner-is-set-to-officially-graduate-from-the-university-of-cincinnati/

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  • Rich Cimini - Aug 4, 2023 
  •  
  • New York Jets star Sauce Gardner, the 2022 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, added another commendation to his trophy shelf.

Gardner received his diploma Friday from the University of Cincinnati, where he played football from 2019 to 2021. He participated in the commencement ceremony after flying to Cincinnati from Canton, Ohio, where the Jets played Thursday night in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.

Gardner took classes in the spring to complete his academic requirements, earning a degree in interdisciplinary studies."It kind of feels like game day," Gardner said after receiving his diploma, according to Cincinnati.com. "It's a box that I feel like was unchecked. My mom always told me to put school first. It's big for me and I know it's big for her as well."

Drafted fourth overall by the Jets in 2022, Gardner became Cincinnati's highest-drafted player. In addition to winning Defensive Rookie of the Year, he was named first-team All-Pro.Gardner, who was known as Ahmad Gardner when he arrived as a freshman, was announced as "Sauce Gardner" at the ceremony.

 >>   https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/38135515/jets-sauce-gardner-receives-diploma-cincinnati-commencement-ceremony

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No Live Team Reps for Jets' Two Second-Year Stars

Three starters nursing minor injuries as NFL Preseason rolls on

The Carolina Panthers didn't see any of Garrett Wilson or Sauce Gardner during Wednesday's joint practice with the New York Jets.

Wilson, the team's top receiver, has not practiced since suffering an ankle inversion while attempting to make a catch on July 27. The reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year has been working out on the side as he works his way back from the minor injury."Integrate Garrett back into practice, but he's not getting any live team reps," said head coach Robert Saleh on Wednesday morning in Spartanburg, SC.While Wilson has been deemed a limited participant, the plan is to keep Gardner, the 2022 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, sidelined for at least one day. The All-Pro cornerback apparently tweaked his quad muscle before departing New Jersey on Tuesday.

"Sauce, it's more precaution than anything," said Saleh. "He felt something yesterday in practice, so we're just holding him out."

Veteran edge rusher Carl Lawson, who has been dealing with a back issue since Sunday, joined Gardner as a non-participant at Wofford College. "His back, just for precaution, we're trying to take care of his lower back," said Saleh. "Hopefully we get him back soon."

As for those who participate in live reps against the Panthers, Saleh issued a warning.

"Today's gonna strain everybody," said Saleh. "This will be the heaviest workload that we put on our guys all camp."The workload is sure to test offensive tackle Mekhi Becton, who hasn't played a regular season game since the 2021 season opener.The 6-foot-7 Becton took a handful of snaps during the Hall of Fame Game and performed effectively. "Every day is important for him. He's making progress. He's getting a lot better. He had a really good day yesterday," said Saleh about the No. 11 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. "Today's going to be a good test for him and the confidence he has in his knee."

The Jets and Panthers assemble together for practices on August 9 and 10 at Wofford before meeting again during Saturday's preseason game in Charlotte.

 >>   https://www.si.com/nfl/jets/news/no-live-team-reps-for-jets-two-second-year-stars

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