Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner enjoyed a career milestone of sorts Monday night, making his home debut at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. Giving off major first day of school vibes, the first-round rookie had a little trouble finding the place, stopping to ask a security guard for directions on his way to the Jets’ locker room.
While a number of teams hold training camp at their home stadium, the Jets aren’t one of them, instead traveling a half-hour west to Athletic Health Training Center in Florham Park. With that in mind, it’s conceivable this was Gardner’s first experience exploring the inner workings of MetLife Stadium, one of the league’s largest facilities at a whopping 2.1 million square feet.
This isn’t the first time Gardner has gotten himself turned around following a similar incident in Las Vegas earlier this year, getting lost on his way to meet commissioner Roger Goodell, who had just called him to the podium after being drafted with the fourth overall pick. Who among us, when faced with the unfamiliar, hasn’t needed a moment to get our bearings, using smartphones (Google Maps works wonders), GPS devices and, when all else fails, our own eyes as resources?
They say practice makes perfect and with more reps, Gardner should eventually learn his way around the intimidating maze that is MetLife Stadium, where the Jets rolled to a 24-16 victory over the visiting Falcons Monday night, aided by tight end Lawrence Cager’s three catches for 65 yards and Bradley Anae’s fumble return for a touchdown with 10:22 remaining. After the game, Gardner shared a moment with fellow rookie Desmond Ridder, his former teammate at Cincinnati. Ridder impressed with 143 yards on 10-of-13 passing in the losing effort, cementing his QB2 status behind starter Marcus Mariota.