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EA: Lito Ready for His Rebirth as a Jet

Posted by Eric Allen on March 3, 2009 – 2:42 pm

The Jets wanted a proven starter to line up across the field from Darrelle Revis, and Lito Sheppard needed a change of Zip codes. It was the perfect match, so the Green & White shipped a pair of draft choices to the Eagles for a man hungry for a fresh start.

“I think people tend to forget what Lito Sheppard is all about due to numerous reasons as far as me not being on the field, but this is a chance for me to revamp my legacy, my passion for this game and my place in history,” Sheppard told Randy Lange and myself today on a special edition of "Jets Two-Minute Drive" on newyorkjets.com radio. “I feel like I’m one of the best in the league and I have a lot more to offer to this game, and hopefully I’m going to continue that from this point on.”

The 5’10”, 194-pound Sheppard, who played his first seven seasons with the Eagles, fell out of favor in Philly last year. After the Eagles spent a boatload of money on former Patriots corner Asante Samuel last spring, Sheppard started just three games and was relegated to special teams duty in the winter.

In Sheppard’s mind, the Eagles made a business decision. The true pro didn’t raise a stink, remained a quality teammate and never lost confidence.

“My skills, my personality and my abilities haven’t gone anywhere. Obviously Philly had different plans with what they wanted to do with me,” he said. “I think it kind of all started from the business side and that kind of relayed to them not giving me the opportunities that I’ve had in the past.”

Under Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine, the Jets promise to play a lot of man coverage. When they’re sending five, six, seven and eight at opposing signalcallers, those DBs will have the responsibility to prevent big plays and the expectation to make big plays.

“I’ve been pretty much in that type of system my whole career, even through Florida — we didn’t play a whole lot of zone. I think man is pretty much my strength,” Sheppard said. “They have an aggressive mindset to play defense, but I think it will work. It’s been working thus far. He’s had so many great seasons in Baltimore with top-ranked defenses, so he just needs the players to plug in and get the job done.”

Sheppard, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, has totaled 18 career interceptions and he’s returned three for scores. Only Sheppard and former Ravens S Ed Reed have multiple interception returns of 100-plus yards in NFL history and Randy asked Sheppard about those game-breakers today.

“That’s kind of my mentality whenever I get to run with the ball — I’m looking to score. I always played a little offense in high school and even in college,” Sheppard said. “They don’t allow me to play it in the NFL, but I still think I can. I just try to impress and show people I do have some ball skills when I do get it. I’m only thinking one thing and that’s score, so I feel like if I get past that first wave of defenders, there aren’t too many people in this league who can catch me.”

A two-time All-American at the University of Florida (I actually covered Lito a couple of times when I was attending grad school at UF), Sheppard attended Raines HS and was the nation’s top corner coming out of high school. He has excelled on every level and he believes he and Revis can make for a dynamite duo.

“Most superheroes need wing men, but I think we’re two superheroes who can work together and make that secondary one of the best — not to mention Kerry Rhodes and those other guys on the back end," he said. "It’s going to be great.”

Leonhard Also Leaves Nest?

Speaking of those “other guys,” numerous media outlets have reported that the Jets have reached agreement with former Ravens S Jim Leonhard on a multiyear deal. If/when that deal becomes official (and that means the contract is actually signed), we’ll let you know.

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Posted in Eric Allen | 28 Comments »

28 Responses to “EA: Lito Ready for His Rebirth as a Jet”

  1. By Chris Rufo on Mar 3, 2009 | Reply

    if the Jets can reach a deal with Jim Leonhard we’re going to have a top 5 defense… All we need is a QBBBBBBB!!!!!!!!!

  2. By Ira on Mar 3, 2009 | Reply

    EA, Love the Sheppard p/u. He reminds me of an A.Glenn type of player if he plays up to his potential. And yes it will give Rex the ability to get after the QB with Revis and Sheppard locking up other teams WR’s. I really believe Lowery will be used at safety and CB this year.

  3. By wayne on Mar 3, 2009 | Reply

    Can you imaging this defense throwing everything,including the kitchen sink at the QB? Wow.

  4. By Brian I on Mar 3, 2009 | Reply

    I love the secondary moves….I think Lito has alot left and is a high level player and I love Leonhard…He is a warrior….very pleased so far….a tight secondary should allow us to wreak some havoc!!!!

  5. By drewsjets on Mar 3, 2009 | Reply

    Oh my the J.E.T.S with probaly atop five D in the N.F.L cant wait to get started Favre was fun but 1 and done.Please give the ball to Ratliff.Clemens is a career backup.I say cut Clemens and bring in Leftwich why even give him a chance to mess with the new Bretts mind,that kid can throw the ball like an animal .Lito , Bart ,and Leonard with the rest of our probowlers lets let the games begin.

  6. By cliff on Mar 3, 2009 | Reply

    Don’t be surprised to see the Jets make a try for DE Taylor. Under Ryan and his rush the QB strategy, they’ll need proven DE’s and Taylor is one. A Vet yes but he can at least add BETTER depth and is a far cry better than Coleman.

  7. By uncle joe on Mar 3, 2009 | Reply

    Mr.Ryan,you are awesome,love all 3 moves but,please resign Abram Elam.He is all about violent hitting.I’m sure you could find a way to use him.

  8. By uncle joe on Mar 3, 2009 | Reply

    If the Jets Defense is half of what it sounds like It’s gonna be,our stadium will be the most feared,loudest stadium in the league!We were nuts with below average teams,can you imagine what it’s gonna be like if our defense plays anywhere near a Balt. or Pitt Defense.Right now I don’t care if they brought Richard Todd back to QB!

  9. By kimosabe on Mar 3, 2009 | Reply

    Leonhard is on board..! We need a TE ..Love the way this team is looking..! Not since Weeb or The Tuna, have I felt this good about the JETS coach Ryan and his staff…the players, I know ,will work their tails off, and I see success in the very near future….It’s ON !!!

  10. By MIKE on Mar 3, 2009 | Reply

    Love the moves the tanny has made, and don’t have a problem with Jets not going after and WR or QB. The D looks so solid right now I just feel that is one weak spot on the D at ROLB. Byron Thomas is a very average player at a postion where you need a stud. Hopefully Rex came transform Gholston into the player that he was drafted to be. If he came blitz more and stay away from coverage it looks OK.

  11. By supercooljetfan on Mar 3, 2009 | Reply

    secondary seems to be locked up but hopefully we can get a pass rush goin…i cant remeber the las time the jets had a good secondary and pass rush at the same time…i hate how all the analyst are talkin about the jets not havin a qb i think if we draft britt or heyward bey ratliff or clemens should do fine this year

  12. By Drew on Mar 3, 2009 | Reply

    Great moves so far…Lito is playing for money this year so we should see some flashes of old….Plus the contract is a genius as Philly will never see a 2nd and Lito will never see the 10 mil. Mr.T well done!! ….Ira?? I love you bud but please stop calling for the Jets to sign R Royal!! He is an awful TE. He cant block and is even worse in the passing game. He is a walking holding penalty!!

  13. By Cheese on Mar 3, 2009 | Reply

    DE,WR,OLB,QB,TE, are the needs for now. Get Holiday or Taylor at DE. Trade the 17 for a early 2nd round pick to get hicks or brittand other draft picks. Gholston has to live up to expectations or else. Sign Leftbirch he can still play and will win the job. Get a big TE in the draft because thier is none in free agency. Jets still need depth at O-line and get Ivy

  14. By Xavion on Mar 3, 2009 | Reply

    I dont think we should sign Taylor unless it’s super cheap. Besides he hates the Jets I doubt he would ever come. I am also content to let our 3 Young QB’s fight for the Job it be nice to see home grown Talent lead us to a championship I think so far they have shown tools that can help them excell with a solid line and supporting cast!

  15. By jfarms on Mar 3, 2009 | Reply

    how do we need a TE? Keller is pretty sick..but if coles decides not to resign we definiely need a WR

  16. By Johnny Cool on Mar 4, 2009 | Reply

    Lovin it!!!

  17. By jak, 31 wk jet fan on Mar 4, 2009 | Reply

    good article eric , thanks. UNCLE JOE richard todd did have some good games i recall ,when i was young ,of course memory can be faulty.

  18. By Vincent on Mar 4, 2009 | Reply

    Even if Sheppard is only 95% of the best he ever was, he’s good enough to get the job done on a defence that will intimidate most QBs. That said, I’m starting to agree with an article I read recently – the BEST pick-up the Jets have made this year is Rex. Even with players that are not natural pro-bowl talent, he’ll bring the best out of them and turn this team into winners. Hopefully SB bound.

  19. By Jetsman on Mar 4, 2009 | Reply

    Why is everybody calling for Jason Taylor?? In a 3-4 Defense, the defensive ends must be around 280 lbs. and the nose tackle around Jenkins’ size. Jason Taylor is a mere 250 lbs. he will be run over on every play because he can get double teamed, either by two linemen or a lineman and a tight end.

  20. By ronald on Mar 4, 2009 | Reply

    why do you all keep say we need a te we have a very good one in keller and keep up the good work guys cant wait for the season to start and good luck to rex and his crew

  21. By Lwood on Mar 4, 2009 | Reply

    I like what Rex and the Jets have done thus far. My only question is why did they pass on Ray Lewis. Adding Ray to the already impressive defense in my opinion would have made the Jets D a real powerhouse. Ray is an exciting player to watch I was really hoping they would pick him up too.

  22. By Ray on Mar 4, 2009 | Reply

    ronald, jfarms we need a tight end who can block as well as catch a pass. Keller is a nice receiving TE but offers very little from the run blocking standpoint. We need a big TE who can run block and more importantly pass block.

  23. By steven on Mar 4, 2009 | Reply

    Any chance we could land Vince Young from the Titans?

  24. By tommt on Mar 4, 2009 | Reply

    when will we get that six foot four receiver and it better not be no percy harvin we need a randy moss on our team and a little help from mcnabb

  25. By QtylerB on Mar 4, 2009 | Reply

    as long as the jets-D continues to fall in place and we land Hakeem Nicks in the Draft we just need to start Brett Ratliff and then the playoffs are looking like a fur-sure

  26. By thecore on Mar 5, 2009 | Reply

    i dont understand why everyone thinks we need a tight end. ok so keller isnt the best blocker in the game but the kid has hands of gold and plays his heart out

  27. By George on Mar 5, 2009 | Reply

    That 6’4″ reciever could possibly be Hakim Nicks, he is amazing, it would be great if the jets could get him

  28. By malcolm on Mar 11, 2009 | Reply

    We don’t need Nicks we either need harvin or bay we need speed we already have size and we need to try and get cutler from denver what yal think?

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