The 2-2 Jets are getting ready to face the 3-1 Dolphins, and New York rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner is excited to take on the challenge of covering Miami's wide receivers Sunday. Gardner will be defending stars Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle and the rest of a Dolphins offense that ranks fourth overall in the league for passing yards with 1,167.
Going against a strong offense in the division could be intimidating for a young star, but Gardner is ready to prove himself against some of the best.
"This is what I dreamed about coming to the NFL," Gardner said, via the New York Post. "The goals that I have for myself like Rookie of the Year, All-Pro, Pro Bowl, all that type of stuff, I've got to go against guys like that in order to be recognized. It's a great opportunity. Me and D.J. [Reed] and the rest of the secondary was talking about it. It's a great opportunity to show the world what we can do."
Gardner has high expectations for himself and knows that to be the best he has to beat the best.
The Dolphins have the ninth-highest scoring offense in the league, averaging 24.5 points per game. Hill has the most receiving yards in the NFL with 477 and is tied for second in catches with 31. Waddle comes in seventh in yards with 381 and is the yards-per-catch leader with 18.1 (minimum 15 catches).
Facing those two will not be easy, but Gardner did reflect on how his past opponents have prepared him for this matchup.
"I went against guys that was fast like Jameson Williams from Bama. He was fast," Gardner said. "I ain't saying he's Tyreek Hill fast, but I've got certain things that I like to do so I can be able to hang with guys like that."
Head coach Robert Saleh praised the young player, complimenting how he approaches his game.
"He's got this mindset like, 'All right, I may have screwed that one up, but you still got lucky, you didn't get that on me,'" Robert said. "That's his mindset. I love where he's at, he's growing every day, and like I said, he's only going to get better and eventually, where he won't need communication because he's just going to know immediately and he's going to do the communicating. So, he's a special one."
The Jets defense has been solid this year and a lot better than many expected them to be, allowing the 10th-fewest yards per game.