NY Jets Rookie Israel Abanikanda’s Underdog Story Highlights Latest ‘Hard Knocks’ Episode

The third installment of HBO’s “Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the New York Jets” has premiered.

Through the first two episodes, we got an extensive look at the QB room among veterans. Aaron Rogers and former second overall pick zach wilson. Last weekwe got our first extensive look at a defensive player with a recently paid defensive tackle quinnen williams taking the spotlight.

The show also showcased the Jets’ mastery of joint practices with the carolina panthers and finally in the preseason matchup where they posted a 27-0 shutout at Carolina on August 12.

With the third episode now in the books, here are my three takeaways from this week’s episode:

Further: Here are our best bets to win every major award in the NFL for the 2023-24 season.

August 17, 2023 - New York Jets running back Dalvin Cook speaks to reporters at the team's facility in Florham Park, New Jersey.  The former Minnesota Vikings star signed a one-year contract with the Jets on August 16.

August 17, 2023 – New York Jets running back Dalvin Cook speaks to reporters at the team’s facility in Florham Park, New Jersey. The former Minnesota Vikings star signed a one-year contract with the Jets on August 16.

It didn’t take long for the show to introduce the Jets’ newest addition to Cook’s running back room.

At his first practice, fans chanted “Dalvin Cook!” over and over again despite the fact that he was only in Florham Park for a day due to the flight back to his home state of Florida for the birth of his child.

“Having that veteran presence and still being able to play soccer at a high level like he (Cook) will elevate everyone’s game,” head coach Robert Saleh said.

The next segment was a deep dive on fellow RBs breece room, who suffered a knee injury early last season after having a tremendous stretch to start his rookie season. In the first practice back for him, the 2022 second-round pick didn’t miss a beat, as he displayed some big bang and explosiveness multiple times during the segment.

garrett wilson possesses a feisty union practice with Buccaneers

Florham Park, NJ May 31, 2023 -- Wide receiver Garrett Wilson during the Jets OTA.

Florham Park, NJ May 31, 2023 — Wide receiver Garrett Wilson during the Jets OTA.

In the only joint Jets-Bucs practice, he was physical early on and often. Several times both teams had to be separated from each other, but skirmishes continued throughout the day.

Once the dust settled, Wilson showed why he could be Rodgers’ favorite target this season. The 10th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft repeatedly burned Tampa Bay’s defensive backs and had multiple defenders miss over and over again. Wilson is looking to build on his Offensive Rookie of the Year award last season, where he played in all 17 games and hauled in 83 receptions for 1,103 yards and four touchdowns.

“He’s fucking fast,” Rodgers said. “I might miss him on the wrong shoulder because he comes off his break so quickly. He’s special and a good guy.”

Randall Cobb was the focal point in the next block. Cobb has been one of Rodgers’ favorite targets in Green Bay for the past decade. Despite both players contemplating retirement this offseason, Cobb, like Rodgers, decided to play another year with his veteran QB, but this time at the Meadowlands.

New York Jets running back Israel Abanikanda (25) runs with the ball in the second half.  The Buccaneers defeat the Jets, 13-6, in an NFL preseason game at MetLife Stadium on Saturday, August 19, 2023, in East Rutherford.

New York Jets running back Israel Abanikanda (25) runs with the ball in the second half. The Buccaneers defeat the Jets, 13-6, in an NFL preseason game at MetLife Stadium on Saturday, August 19, 2023, in East Rutherford.

Before the ball even broke, Saleh remarkably told star defensive tackle Quinnen Williams on the bench that “everyone is” playing in the preseason finale against the New York Giants next Saturday night, including the first action with the Jets uniform for Rodgers.

But the story of the night was RB Israel Abanikanda, who has been one of the bright spots of the Jets’ offense this preseason.

The Brooklyn rookie continued to perform at a high level in the Jets’ Week 2 preseason game against Tampa Bay.

Unfortunately, with Abanikanda’s mother and family watching from the stands, the 20-year-old left the game early after a knee-to-knee collision with a Buccaneers lineman and was unable to support his leg.

While Abanikanda had a promising introduction to the NFL (16 carries, 88 rushing yards and a TD), he might be the odd man out in a RB room featuring the aforementioned Hall, Cook and Michael Carter. The good news is that the 2023 fifth-round pick avoided a major injury, having been reported that he will likely miss a few weeks with a thigh injury.

NFL: Here’s how to get Giants vs. Jets for Saturday, in addition to prices on ticketing platforms.

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: NY Jets at Hard Knocks with Israel Abanikanda, Garrett Wilson and Dalvin Cook

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top