Injuries, transactions and on-field performance are all ingredients in how the Jets’ 53-man active roster and 45-man gameday roster develop. For two members of the Green & White, Sunday’s game against the Packers could be an opportunity to show their worth for the first time after being elevated from the practice squad.
Linebacker Josh Mauga and defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert may get their shot to make an impact against the Packers, most likely on special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff’s crew.
“We’re putting him in and trying to get him a position to see if he can be active,” Westhoff said of Mauga. “He deserves an opportunity at some point in time, and he may well get it this week. We’ll see. He deserves a chance. He worked really hard. He got hurt in camp and that put him back, but he deserves an opportunity to see what he can do as a player, so we want to give it to him.”
The Nevada product has fought through injuries since he was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2009. During his senior year with the Wolfpack, he tore his pectoral muscle yet made 54 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. In 2009 he was placed on injured reserve and during this season’s training camp in Cortland, N.Y., he suffered a concussion on a goal-line drill.
Mauga was surprised by the callup from the practice squad.
“It definitely shocked me,” Mauga said. “They said I had a chance and would have the opportunity if someone went down. When I got the phone call it was very exciting. It just feels like everything that I’ve done up to this point has really helped me get to the 53-man roster.”
Despite having the concussion and then being winding up on the practice squad, Mauga has been relentless in his study. He was seen roaming the sidelines during training camp and this season he’s met with linebackers coach Bob Sutton separately at least once a week in order to stay on top of the playbook. While he may not see playing time on the defensive end with players like Bart Scott and David Harris in front of him, he’s been working on every special teams unit and knows what role he hopes to play.
“Just being a playmaker,” Mauga said. “Coach Westhoff always talks about how he wants guys to be flying down on special teams and making plays. That’s what I hope I can do for him.”
Gilbert, like Mauga, has also taken an unconventional route to the 53-man roster. A third-round pick by Chicago out of San Jose State in 2009, he was released after just one season in the Bears’ 4-3 scheme. He came into the NFL as a defensive tackle but was told to lose weight to become an end.
Now in Rex Ryan and coordinator Mike Pettine’s 3-4 system, Gilbert can get back to being the type of player he was during his senior year at SJSU, when he made 52 tackles, an NCAA-leading 22 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.
“Definitely I feel like I can be an asset to the team,” Gilbert said. “I can bring some pass rush to the scheme and I’m still a little light, still trying to gain weight, but certain situations I feel I could be helpful.”
Ryan said when the Jets were interested in running back Shonn Greene in the 2009 draft, they were also looking at Gilbert. This season, after making only one tackle in four games with the Bears, Gilbert was claimed off waivers by the Jets and has been able to work his way closer to his college playing weight of about 290 pounds as opposed to his 260 pounds with Chicago.
“He’s a big athletic guy for that kind of size,” Ryan said. “He’s got the long arms. Now, being trained behind Shaun [Ellis] and Trevor Pryce, it’s going to be good tutelage for him. We’re trying to get that weight back on him. Poor kid. He’s doing well. He’s earned it. He really works hard on the scout team looks. That’s why we promoted him.”
*Special Teams Saturday
Tags: Green Bay Packers, Jarron Gilbert, Josh Mauga, Mike Westhoff, Rex Ryan
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