Jeremy Kerley knows he is in a good place. Kerley, the Jets’ fifth-round selection from TCU who doubles up as a receiver and a return man, feels fortunate to be a pro and that he landed at one of the most desirable spots in the National Football League.
“To be a Jet is a great thing and I know it’s an opportunity a lot of guys wish they had,” he said this week. “So while I’m here, I try to make the most of it.”
The 5’9”, 188-pound Kerley, sporting No. 85 at camp, has had the opportunity to take valuable reps early because both Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes are relegated to sideline duty until Thursday because of the new CBA and Jerricho Cotchery (back) started camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Kerley didn’t have the benefit of a full offseason in the classroom, so he is working to get a handle on the language.
“The terminology is definitely the toughest part,” he said. “Coming from where I came from, it was kind of a spread-and-go. It’s a lot different learning — you have to break down more coverages and more routes.”
Last season Kerley broke out for the Horned Frogs as 10 of his 56 catches resulted in touchdowns. He has impressed onlookers early on and made a nifty grab in the corner of the end zone Tuesday. The Jets targeted Kerley after he worked out for offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer in the predraft process and then moved up to get him in April.
“We’re really excited about him,” said GM Mike Tannenbaum. “He’s a really good route runner and has really good hands.”
The Jets headed into the free agency period with some uncertainty as both Holmes and Braylon Edwards were UFAs. But Holmes, who was the team’s No. 1 priority, re-signed and then the Green & White added the 6’5” Burress to the mix. Cotchery is a savvy vet and has no doubt he’ll be ready for the upcoming season.
“It’s definitely a great group to learn from. You’ve got Jerricho, who has been with the team seven or eight years,” Kerley said. “He’s definitely a vet in the receiving room helping guys out. We have Coach Ellard and then you have Coach Holmes and Coach Cotchery. They help out a lot.”
While Kerley hopes to do some damage in the slot, it’s his return ability that could set him apart. The Mountain West’s Special Teams Player of the Year each of the past two seasons is getting looks at both kick returner and punt returner.
“I feel good. That’s kind of what separated me in college, so hopefully I can just carry on to the next level,” he said. “It will be a lot of work, but I think I’m up to the challenge. I think Coach Westhoff has a lot of trust in me — I hope he does.”
Kerley averaged 27.2 yards on kickoffs and 13.8 yards on punts at TCU and his two return scores came as a PR. He is cool when the ball is booted in his direction and has the ability to see beyond any obstacles.
“You kind of have to let it all go. You can’t be uptight and you can’t be nervous because those are things that will get you into trouble in this league,” he said. “When I catch the ball, I kind of look out past the defenders. I see the end zone and work from there.”
So far, so good for Jeremy Kerley. He is in a good place and the Jets think they have a pretty good player on their hands.
“This Kerley kid,” said head coach Rex Ryan, “he’s an excellent athlete.”
Inflatables Down but Jets Fest’s a Go
Fans will be able to see Kerley and all the rest of the Jets at this afternoon’s open practice, which begins at 2:15 p.m. with stretching. One note for those coming out to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center today: Jets Fest is open today from 1-6 p.m., but the inflatable rides are temporarily closed.
Tags: Jerricho Cotchery, Mike Tannenbaum, Plaxico Burress, Rex Ryan, Santonio Holmes
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