Josh Jacobs, Aaron Rodgers & Jerod Mayo Highlight Wednesday’s Top Storylines from NFL OTAs

With NFL OTAs underway, we're tracking the latest news, rumors, injuries, holdouts, and other developments coming out of spring practices.

Football never sleeps. While NFL training camps are still weeks away, teams are getting in work during the spring via organized team activities (OTAs). Contact isn’t permitted during these practices, but OTAs can give a club’s decision-makers their first impression of how their squad will look in 2024.

With that in mind, we’re tracking every bit of news coming out of OTAs in late May and early June. Here are the top stories from Wednesday’s NFL practices.

Latest News and Notes From NFL OTAs

Josh Jacobs Returns to Green Bay Packers Practice

Matt LaFleur cautioned observers not to “freak out” when free agent addition Josh Jacobs missed the first week of the Green Bay Packers’ OTAs, and the veteran head coach was right. Jacobs returned to practice on Wednesday and took at least one rep during a team drill, according to Ryan Wood of USA Today.

The Packers signed Jacobs — who led the NFL in rushing and earned first-team All-Pro honors with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2022 — to a four-year, $48 million contract this offseason.

Assuming he can stay healthy after missing four games a season ago, Jacobs projects as a workhorse for Green Bay. However, LaFleur said Wednesday that while he views Jacobs as a feature back, the Packers “typically … like to platoon those guys, whether it’s two guys or three guys.”

Aaron Rodgers’ Practice Report

The New York Jets are well into their second week of OTAs, and Aaron Rodgers looks impressive as he returns from the ruptured Achilles that ended his 2023 season after four plays.

Rodgers was sharp early during Wednesday’s practice, completing a “beautiful” pass to TE Kenny Yeboah and another which required a diving catch by WR Garrett Wilson, according to SNY’s Connor Hughes. But Rodgers struggled during New York’s red-zone period, completing just one of five attempts, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini.

Meanwhile, RB Breece Hall was working in the Jets’ rehab area, as Cimini reported. Rookie wide receiver Malachi Corley left practice early with a trainer and sat out late during 11-on-11 sessions.

New York Jets Sign Former All-Pro Kick Returner

Now that the NFL has adopted new rules enhancing the value of kick returns, teams are searching far and wide to find electric return men.

The Jets took a bet on Tarik Cohen on Wednesday, signing the veteran returner to a one-year pact. Cohen made the 2018 All-Pro team as a returner but has played in just three games since 2020 after suffering ACL and Achilles injuries.

“Tarik [is an] explosive playmaker, he’s starting to get back healthy,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said. “With the new kickoff rules and these kick returners, they’re going to touch the ball over 100 times a year, which is significant. At least, that’s what we’re anticipating. And a guy like him, he’s still young, obviously coming off his injuries, but we’re excited to have him aboard.”

Wide receiver Xavier Gipson was New York’s primary returner last year, returning 33 punts and 22 kickoffs. The Jets ranked dead last on kickoff returns in 2023, according to FTN’s DVOA data.

Calvin Ridley Heaps Praise on Tennessee Titans’ Former First-Round WR

Pressure is on Treylon Burks to perform after the Tennessee Titans added fellow wideouts Calvin Ridley and Tyler Boyd this offseason, crowding out Burks on a depth chart that also includes DeAndre Hopkins.

But Burks said his confidence is “through the roof” as he enters his third season in Nashville, Tenn., per Fox’s Ben Arthur.

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Multiple concussions and knee injuries have hindered Burks’ NFL career; he’s posted just 49 catches for 665 yards and one touchdown since Tennessee made him the No. 18 pick two years ago.

“This dude is a freak,” Ridley said of Burks on Wednesday. “He’s like Julio [Jones], A.J. Brown, T.O. [Terrell Owens]. Dude, that big, that fast, man? He’s a stud. You don’t have to worry about him. He just gotta learn, slow the game down.”

New England Patriots HC Jerod Mayo Singles Out Second-Year DE

Given that the New England Patriots’ offense probably won’t strike fear in many opposing defenses, the club will likely need its own defense to play as well or better than it did in 2023, when it finished eighth in EPA per play. That might mean getting more production up front, as the Pats ranked 19th in pressure rate (20.7%) and 27th in sacks (36) last season.

On Wednesday, new Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo said pass rusher Keion White, New England’s second-round pick in last year’s draft, has caught his eye during spring workouts, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN. Mayo also noted that White has “been opening up more in the meeting room” as he enters his sophomore campaign.

White thrived during the 2023 preseason, but he’ll need to show development after posting just one sack and five QB hits on 521 regular-season snaps.

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