Matt Slauson does not look at all like a man on the hot seat. The second-year guard stood in the middle of the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room on his way to the shower (tastefully clothed, of course) and talked calmly and coolly about the opportunity that could be ahead for him in the coming season.
"Right now I’m listed as a starter-slash-backup because I’m competing for a starting job, obviously with Vlad," said Slauson, "Vlad" being second-round rookie Vladimir Ducasse and "job" being the left guard spot vacated with the departure of veteran Alan Faneca. "I don’t know how things are going to play out, but I know know this opportunity and I plan to make the most of it."
But shouldn’t this young man be nervous? The Jets’ offensive line, which had been intact for two full seasons, gained recognition in 2009 as one of the NFL’s best units as it helped pave the way for the league’s No. 1-ranked rushing offense. And now there’s an opening.
Yet Slauson’s quiet confidence has several sources. The 6’5", 315-pounder isn’t exactly new to surviving and being adaptable in the football spotlight, having started 32 games combined at three different positions (RG, RT, LT) at Nebraska.
And his head coach for his first three seasons at Nebraska is the same as his line coach for his two seasons as a Jet: Bill Callahan. "He’s the best in the business," Slauson said. "I know how he works, he knows how I work."
Then there was his rookie NFL campaign, when he saw limited action on the line but got a lot of guidance from starting guards Faneca and Brandon Moore.
"I learned a lot playing behind Alan and Brandon," he said. "I was able to pick their brains and see how things were supposed to be done."
Slauson has a good idea how things need to be done off the field. He was named the team’s sixth Hampton Award winner, which goes to the rookie "who acts most like a pro in the locker room" and is friendly, courteous and neat.
And on Wednesday he just made his first "solo" hospital visit to see the kids at the Goryeb Children’s Hospital at Morristown Memorial near the team complex.
"I really enjoyed that a lot. I just love visiting the kids," he said. "When I was growing up, I’d kill to meet a football player — college, pro, it didn’t matter. Big, mean, nasty guys. But then I found out that most offensive linemen are nice guys off the field."
So Slauson’s got the split personality part down, because he seems to be nasty and mean enough on the turf to make a big run at this opening in the starting lineup.
"I’m very confident. As long as I do what I can do, I know I have a really good chance," he said. "The cards are going to fall where they will, and hopefully I’ll be on top of the deck."
Revis Up Front in Leadership Role
Darrelle Revis noted the loss of two top locker room men this year in Faneca and Thomas Jones. So have his coaches, who are suggesting strongly that No. 24 step boldly into the breach.
And this is no problem for Revis, although he said he’s working on finding a leadership balance that suits his personality as well as the needs of the team.
"I’m still working on being more vocal," he said at his locker. "My thing is I try to lead by example. But i think it’s more of a demand from the coaches for me to be vocal. … We’re all grown men here. I don’t want my teammates to look at me as a guy who harps all the time. I always try to lead by example."
Revis is getting some work as a leader this offseason since he assumed the captaincy of one of the four "teams" in coach Sal Alosi’s strength and conditioning program.
"The first week we were negative 300 points," he said. "One reason was Kris Jenkins was talking back to Sal. I met with Kris and said, ‘Let’s just be accountable. You’ve got to help me, too. You’ve been playing for nine years and this is my fourth year. Help me do my job better.’ He hasn’t been talking back to Sal since."
Thus, Team Revis has shot back up the standings.
Both Revis and center Nick Mangold said their agents are in preliminary talks with the Jets about contract extensions. Revis said today his agent has been speaking to the Jets "for a while," while Mangold said his representatives "talked last night and we’re moving forward with the process."
And Jason Taylor’s Number Is …
A lot of football fans on either end of I-95 are curious to know what uniform number LB Jason Taylor, the longtime Miamian, will line up in as a Jet, since Bryan Thomas has almost as much tenure as the Jets’ 99 as Taylor had as the Dolphins’ 99.
We hear JT will, perhaps appropriately, don No. 95 for the Jets’ OTA practices that begin next week at the AHJTC. However, Taylor is only taking this number out for a test drive. His number is not yet etched in stone and he could change it before training camp.
Tags: Alan Faneca, Bill Callahan, Brandon Moore, Darrelle Revis, Jason Taylor, Kris Jenkins, Matt Slauson
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