The intensity at New York Jets training camp turns up significantly Monday when the pads go on and the hitting begins. It’s something the players and coaches are ready for after a solid first week of camp in helmets and shorts.

“100 percent,” rookie defensive end Jermaine Johnson said with a smile Saturday when asked if he’s ready to get the pads on. “I haven’t hit anybody since November of 2021, so I’m definitely looking forward to it 100 percent.”

Coaches will get a better gauge on the players as the Jets ramp things up and move into the next phase before preseason games.

There’ll be plenty to pay attention to, but here are five things to watch beginning Monday when the Jets put the gear on and start hitting one another.

Jets 2022 Training Camp Storylines When Pads Come On

No. 5: Kwon Alexander

The Jets signed the linebacker Friday and he worked out on the side for two days. It’ll be interesting to see where the soon-to-be 28-year-old is with his conditioning since he did not take part in OTAs or minicamp, but head coach Robert Saleh said he’s hopeful Alexander takes part in team workouts this week.

Alexander’s transition to the Jets should be smooth since he knows their scheme well having played for Saleh for two seasons in San Francisco when Saleh was the defensive coordinator.

C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams are the Jets’ top two linebackers, and Alexander is expected to provide veteran depth alongside them, especially in passing situations.

“He’s a ball of energy, great leadership, can play both WILL (weak side) and SAM (strong side),” Saleh said of Alexander. “Love him. … He’s a special young man.”

No. 4: Injuries

The Jets structured OTAs and minicamp in a way that limited physical stress on the players, trying to keep them fresh and healthy for the long grind ahead. But there’s no getting around the fact that injuries occur in every NFL training camp, and there’s no way to predict when they’ll happen and to whom.

Last summer, edge rusher Carl Lawson was in the midst of a monster camp when he tore his Achilles and was lost for the season. It was a devastating blow to the Jets. Fellow lineman Vinny Curry also never made it to Week 1.

The Jets have more depth on the roster this season, so they should be able to manage injuries better than in the past. But looking to better days coming off a 4-13 season, they can’t afford to have another star player like Lawson sustain a major injury before the regular season even starts.

An area to watch closely is the offensive line. There’s not a lot of depth behind the starting five.

No. 3: O-Line vs. D-Line

The battles between offensive and defensive lineman have been intense the first week of training camp during 11-on-11 drills. But that will ratchet up quite a bit once the pads go on and the hitting begins Monday.

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On the offensive side of the ball, the Jets will be paying close attention to Mekhi Becton, how he adjusts to right tackle and how he looks physically with his first contact since sustaining a season-ending knee injury last September in Week 1. Becton struggled with the heat and pace of practice Thursday, but looked better Friday.

George Fant is coming off knee surgery and has not taken part in team drills yet. That could change this week. Fant will be watched closely after being anointed the starting left tackle instead of Becton.

Defensively, all eyes will be on Lawson. Saleh joked earlier in camp that the Jets must “protect Carl from Carl.” So, expect Lawson’s reps to be managed with the star end coming off a major injury last season. He’s healthy and has been called a “freak” and “monster” physically. The Jets want to make sure he makes it to Week 1 healthy.

It’ll be interesting to see how John Franklin-Myers flows between end and tackle and whether Quinnen Williams shows glimpses of breaking out in his fourth NFL season. Johnson will try to land an important role on either the first or second unit. And there will be plenty of competition for roster spots, with end Bryce Huff worth keeping a close eye on. He has had a particularly strong start to camp.

No. 2: The Rookies

Jermaine Johnson is one of four rookies who could play a significant role this season for the Jets. Fellow first-rounders Sauce Gardner and Garrett Wilson, and second-round pick Breece Hall, are the others. Each has made a solid first impression at camp. Now they’ll be watched closely as intensity ramps up toward the first preseason game.

Saleh seemed to set the tone for the 2022 draft picks when speaking about Gardner, saying he wanted to see how the corner reacts once the pads come on and offenses start running at him. It came off as a challenge, of sorts.

Gardner calmly said he loves physical play and is ready to go Monday. Wilson, the wide receiver agreed.

“I’m expecting bullets to be flying out there,” Wilson said Saturday. “There’s some great athletes out there, some big dudes. When the pads go on, the energy turns up … I’m excited for it and ready to put my best foot forward for sure.”

The Jets believe in these four players, but you don’t know until you know. That begins with seeing them play in real football situations, starting Monday.

No. 1: Zach Wilson

As it is with everything else with the Jets this season, it all boils down to Zach Wilson. The single most important player on the roster must continue to show that he has improved on a disappointing rookie season and is capable of being the star quarterback the Jets envisioned when selecting him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft.

Technically, he doesn’t need to worry about being hit in training camp. Wilson will wear the red non-contact jersey, of course. But everything will speed up around him with the other players hitting and battling as if it were an actual game during team drills. So, Wilson will need to elevate his game, make quicker and smarter decisions and give his teammates the confidence that he, indeed, is “the man.”

Wilson made some huge throws in team drills last week but struggled in the red zone. D.J. Reed picked him off Saturday at the goal line and ran 100 yards the other way. That’s obviously the type thing he needs to eliminate from his game.

Wilson has more weapons on offense and is building a solid rapport with his receivers, tight ends and running backs. He has grown leaps and bounds as a leader too. Tight end C.J. Uzomah said this week that Wilson can make the type of second-year leap that Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow did last season.

Let’s see how Wilson looks when the bullets fly beginning Monday.