Zach Wilson, Joe Tippmann
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets and Browns opened up the 2023 NFL preseason with the Hall of Fame Game Thursday night.

Given it’s a meaningless exhibition game, many of the starters for both teams sat. But we still saw various backups step up and make plays in front of the Canton, Ohio crowd. Including Zach Wilson (yes, you read that right).

Here are three takeaways from the Jets’ first preseason game of the year:

Step forward? Zach Wilson started the Jets’ preseason opener to commence his third NFL season, which is never what you want to see for a former No. 2 overall draft pick. But after a disastrous end to last season, Wilson’s life is now backing up Aaron Rodgers, so he’ll need to take advantage of preseason reps in order to improve.

Zach certainly did that Thursday night, completing three of five passes for 65 yards with a great 57-yard shot down the left sideline to wide receiver Malik Taylor.

It was only one throw from Wilson, and one that a No. 2 overall draft pick who only just turned 24 is expected to make. But the play could be a slight inflection point for Wilson in his quest to right the wrongs of the last two seasons.

Bryce Huff trade value. Bryce Huff, statistically, is actually one of the better pass rushers in the league. While he posts a smaller sample size than the elites of the position (just seven starts in three years), his 21.3% pressure rate led the league last year among players with at least 150 pass-rush snaps, per Next Gen Stats.

But there isn’t much room for him on this Jets roster. New York is stacked at defensive end with Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers, Jermaine Johnson, and Micheal Clemons all returning. Plus first-rounder Will McDonald is now in the mix.

This means the Jets may need to trade Huff eventually, so it was great to see him record a sack early in the opener.

Any highlight play and productive performance for Huff this preseason will enhance the return in a possible trade. And a deal should definitely be made — general manager Joe Douglas might as well try to get something back for a player who can clearly be a good fit on another roster.

Sherwood stock up. The Jets are set to start C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams at linebacker but that LB3 role in a 4-3 defensive scheme is up for grabs. And third-year player Jamien Sherwood made a case Thursday night for why he should earn the job.

Sherwood made a great play forcing a fumble of Browns receiver Anthony Schwartz, which was recovered by slot corner Javelin Guidry.

The youngster has already proven he has special teams value after playing 67% of the Jets’ special teams snaps last year. If he can continue to grow as a defender, the team will have fewer and fewer reasons to cut him before the regular season.

Follow ESNY on Twitter @elitesportsny

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.