Jets eyeing break-out season from 2nd year pass rusher

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As the New York Jets commence their off-season workouts, the spotlight isn’t just on Haason Reddick’s leisure time in Japan; attention is also turning to a promising young pass-rusher, Will McDonald, who is eyeing a breakout season in 2024.

The Jets Have an Emerging Talent in McDonald

Drafted 15th overall in 2023 from Iowa State, 25-year-old Will McDonald is aiming to become a pivotal component of the Jets’ defense. Initially considered a surprise pick, McDonald’s primary role so far has been to enhance the team’s rotational strategy, especially covering for injuries. Despite limited playtime, having only 183 snaps last season behind teammates Jermaine Johnson and Bryce Huff, McDonald managed to make a significant impact with 12 pressures and four sacks.

Standing at 6’3″ and weighing 241 pounds, McDonald possesses the ideal size and capability to effectively seal the edge in the run game. Although he recorded eight tackles with a 9.1% missed tackle rate last season, indicating that there is still room for improvement, his potential is evident.

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Off-Season Dedication and Preparations

Unlike opting for a relaxing beach vacation, McDonald has spent most of his off-season diligently working at the Jets’ training center, focusing on learning more about the game and enhancing his physical condition.

“I was really here most of the summer just trying to add weight and just learning more about the game,” McDonald said. “I was here just helping others and it’s just doing what I got to do to be ready for the season. I want to be ready.”

Via the New York Jets’ Team Website

He is on track to reach his optimal playing weight and has been working on increasing his upper body strength, which is crucial for shedding blocks more effectively and bolstering the run defense.

“I’m at the point now that I wanted to be at this date,” McDonald said. “I have better upper strength. I have got about two or three more pounds to gain, and I’ll be set for the season as long as I maintain that I should be able to reach my fullest potential every day.”

Readiness for Increased Responsibilities

Should the Jets encounter extended difficulties with Reddick that could impact the regular season, McDonald is preparing to seize any increased opportunities that may come his way. Alongside Johnson, who is entering his third season, McDonald is gearing up to potentially play a more significant role in the Jets’ defensive strategy this upcoming season.

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