FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New York Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims used to enjoy salmon, but not anymore. In the spring, he ate a plate of bad salmon that triggered a bout of food poisoning that caused him to lose 20 pounds.
“I haven’t touched salmon ever since then,” Mims said Wednesday.
Mims, a 2020 second-round pick, missed most of the offseason practices as he dealt with the severe effects. He vomited for two weeks and required antibiotics because of an intestinal infection. He didn’t say where he ate the salmon (he wasn’t asked), but a source said it was served in the Jets’ cafeteria. His weight plummeted from 217 to 197, such a dramatic decline that he’s only back to 208 after two months of healthy eating.
“It took a big toll on me,” the former Baylor standout said.
Not coincidentally, he got off to a slow start in training camp, slipping down the depth chart and fueling speculation about his future. He has perked up in recent days — he made a fingertip catch for a long touchdown in a 7-on-7 period on Wednesday — but he’s no better than fifth or sixth in the Jets’ significantly improved receiving corps.
Asked if the organization would consider giving up on Mims, coach Robert Saleh said, “No, absolutely not.”
Mims’ rookie season was sidetracked by a different type of ailment — a pair of hamstring injuries in training camp that caused him to miss the first half of the season. When he got on the field, he showed promise, finishing with 23 catches for 357 yards (no touchdowns) in nine games. He became only the sixth rookie wide receiver in NFL history to post at least 40 receiving yards in his first six games.
It was assumed that he’d return as a starter, but the Jets signed Corey Davis and Keelan Cole as free agents and drafted Elijah Moore in the second round. Suddenly, the competition was better. That, combined with the illness and the transition to an offense that requires a different route-running technique, resulted in fewer reps over the first 10 days of training camp.
“I feel like I’m catching up and I’m almost there,” Mims said.
When he got over the food poisoning, he flew to Florida in late June to work out with quarterback Zach Wilson and other skill-position players. During idle time in training camp, he makes sure to play pitch-and-catch with one of the quarterbacks.
“He’s working his tail off, and the harder he works, the more he puts in, the more opportunities he’s going to get,” Saleh said. “He’s part of the rotation.”