FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New York Jets running back Breece Hall, who will take the field Monday night for the first time in 323 days, said he’s “pretty confident” in his surgically repaired right knee. The same goes for his partnership with Dalvin Cook.
“We’re probably going to be the best duo in the league,” Hall said Saturday after practice. “I’m not going to be too worried about that.”
Hall, whose sensational rookie season was cut short by a torn ACL on Oct. 23, practiced fully and figures to play a key role in the season opener against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium.
The Jets were always optimistic about Hall’s chances of making it back for Week 1. Hall said it wasn’t cemented until the past couple of weeks, when he received a high volume of carries in practice and didn’t have any setbacks with his knee. He didn’t play in the preseason, so he hasn’t been tackled since the day of his injury against the Denver Broncos.
Hall said he’s “not scared” to get hit on the knee. If the Bills take him lightly, he said he will make them pay.
“I’m the type if you leave anything open, I’m going to kill you,” he said. “So that’s just the way it’s going to be.”
The Jets, who signed Cook to a one-year, $7 million contract in mid-August, have two No. 1-caliber runners in their backfield. Cook, who underwent shoulder surgery in February, also had minimal practice time. Chances are, they will share the workload. There are packages that allow them to be on the field at the same time.
The Jets want to be careful with Hall, 22, whom they view as their long-term RB1.
“We have a plan,” said coach Robert Saleh, referring to Monday night. “I’m not going to talk about it here, but there’s going to be a constant communication because what the plan is can be more, can be less, but we have an idea of what we want to get done. He has an idea of what he’d like to accomplish. But at the same time, communication — constantly checking in to see where he’s at, physically and mentally — is going to be key.”
If one back gets hot, it could mean bench time for the other, something neither one is accustomed to. Saleh said he mentioned that to Cook on his free agent visit, thinking there was little chance the four-time Pro Bowl selection would join the team under those circumstances.
That he did, Saleh said, demonstrated his team-first approach.
“As long as we’re winning, we’re both going to be fine,” said Hall, who rushed for 463 yards and a 5.8 average in seven games. “We’re both some of the top playmakers on this roster, so I think there’s going to be enough footballs to go around.”
Like Hall, Cook tore an ACL in his rookie season. Like Hall, Cook was injured in the month of October after a hot start. Since signing with the Jets, he has shared his experiences with Hall.
“He knows exactly what I’m going through,” Hall said. “He said … as much as you want everything to hurry up and be back, you can’t cheat the process. Everything comes over time. You might feel explosive, but your true explosiveness might not come back right away. Everything takes time.”
Third-string back Michael Carter also figures to see playing time in the Jets’ “committee” approach, but the main backs are Hall and Cook.
“To have those guys complement each other, I don’t know if you could ask for anything else,” left tackle Duane Brown said. “Both of those guys are hungry and they both feel like they have something to prove. I’m excited. I’m very excited.”