The New York Jets spent the offseason upgrading the cornerback room, adding free agent D.J. Reed and drafting Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner with the No. 4 overall pick. The moves thrust incumbent Bryce Hall into a spot to battle for a starting job this training camp.
Hall started 17 games for a struggling Jets secondary last year, ranking tied for third in the NFL with 14 pass breakups and adding 79 tackles.
During offseason workouts, Hall remained with the starting group. Coach Robert Saleh noted that first-round pick Gardner needed to earn the right to a starting job. Hall welcomes the competition for snaps.
"The mindset I try to take is you're your own biggest competitor," he told the AP Pro Football Podcast. "I've heard Deion (Sanders) say: 'Your biggest competitor isn't with the guys that come to work, it's the part of you that has to wake up each morning and put in the work. It's the part of you that doesn't want to watch film, but you know you have to watch film. It's the part of you that's saying I want to eat this, eat that, and you know you've got to take care of your body.' And so I think for me, how I approach things is, there's so many things I can control. I really try not to worry about what everybody else is doing, but just try to be the best me and I feel like if I do that, everything is going to take care of itself."
Hall started the first 10 games last season at left corner before being tasked with shadowing opponents' top receiver down the stretch.
"I love the challenge of it," Hall said of traveling with top WRs. "Early on, my comfortability was being on one side. But then as we started to move to different sides, I started to get a lot more comfortable because you have the different footwork on each side. When I look and study the best to do it, they've all traveled. They all have moved to different sides."
Despite an anticipated training camp battle with Gardner for the left corner gig, Hall said he's willing to mentor younger players.
"I remember when I first got in the league, there were guys older than me starting ahead of me, but they had no ego in sharing with me the knowledge and information that they had," he said. "And so I just kind of try to take the same approach."
If Gardner lives up to his draft projections as a lockdown corner, it'll push Hall down the depth chart. But as we see every year, injuries will pop up, and depth will be tested. After the Jets were woefully thin in the secondary last season, having some depth in 2022 will make the Jets D better in Saleh's second season.