Update, 2:35 p.m. ET
There’s been a net movement of 26 years of NFL experience over the past 24 hours. Fifteen years of wideout wisdom has arrived in the form of free agent WR Derrick Mason (who physically may not arrive on the Jets’ training camp field until Monday).
And 11 years of devotion to the Green & White’s defensive line was reported this morning to be departing with word that DE Shaun Ellis agreed to a one-year deal with the New England Patriots.
Mason first. Even though the former Titans and Ravens standout was not expected to practice today, the first effect of his arrival has been seen here with the switch of rookie Jeremy Kerley from uniform number 85 to 11.
“D-Mace has got to do all the paperwork and stuff — it’s like buying a house,” said head coach Rex Ryan, who was still beaming that the new No. 85, a former Ravens acquaintance of his, will soon be out on the field with the Jets’ rebuilt WR corps.
“That was obviously some exciting news for us, getting that kind of receiver,” Ryan said. “I almost look at it like we have three starters. That three-wide package is going to be something when you can have Derrick, Santonio Holmes, obviously Plaxico Burress, and Dustin [Keller]. That’s going to be tough on anybody. That’s going to be fun to watch, that’s for sure. His role is not to come in here as the No. 3 receiver, it’s to come in and build with what we already have with those two guys.”
Mason has already turned 37 this year, but he’s one of those players to whom age is just a number. He’s gone 11 consecutive seasons with at least 60 receptions and 750 yards. He needs 76 more receptions to join the NFL’s 1,000-reception club, which currently has only eight members. And he has gone eight straight seasons playing in all 16 regular-season games and has never played in fewer than 13 games in his 15 years.
We’ll hear more from Mason once he arrives here in Florham Park, N.J.. We may not hear from Shaun Ellis if the word from the northeast is accurate. The Big Katt’s teammates for the last couple of years were sorry to hear the rumors.
“I respect Shaun more than as a football player,” said nose Sione Pouha. “I respect him as a father and as a former teammate of mine. He was here when I first got here, so he had such a huge influence on me. He deserves the respect to make that decision.”
“When I came in, Shaun was a big brother to me,” said Ropati Pitoitua, who’s playing at Ellis’ spot on the D-line. “He’s a great leader and mentor. I learned a lot from him. We all know it’s a business. It is what it is. I wish him the best.”
And Marcus Dixon, who’s gotten a head of steam going on the inside this camp, seemed genuinely moved when I became the first to tell him that Shaun was gone.
“Shaun is definitely a Jet,” Dixon said after shaking his head. “He took me under his wing, taught me how to play up here. Not having him here, it’s sad, but we’ve got to move on. The Patriots are fortunate to be getting a guy like that.”
Ryan, after coaching Ellis (who rose to 72.5 career sacks, third-most in franchise history, last season) for two years, knows the Big Katt will be ready to pounce on the Jets and the Green & Whtie on him.
“I have a great deal of respect for Shaun. He made the Pro Bowl my first year here, and the biggest game he played last year, we all remember, was against New England,” Ryan remembered. “He is a tough guy and he’s going to be missed.”
But Ryan reminded, there’s only so much “pie” to go around each year, “and we’re pretty much right down to it. Bringing in Derrick, it’s hard for me to see that we’ll be bringing in too many more players, if any. I’m happy with the team we have. This, in my opinion, is an outstanding football team. Now obviously we’ve got to stay healthy and all that, work every day, but I think this is a great football team.”
Speaking of Plaxico, Burress is out at practice now and in pads for the first time as a Jet, but he’s only going to work individual drills. “I really want to go slow,” the coach said. “If you have him go through this and there’s a setback, it may cost you two weeks. If you go at the individual things, we feel like we’ll be able to get through that and progress that way.” But, Rex added, Burress “seems to be really grasping the offense.”
The coach on last year’s No. 1 pick, CB Kyle Wilson: “He’s a different guy, a different guy. His confidence is there, he’s stronger, and that only adds to his confidence. I think he’s going to have more of an impact on special teams, and I also see him obviously being our nickel. He’s stepping up. I see him over there working on his blitzing and stuff. He’s carrying himself differently than he did.”
Ryan on RT Wayne Hunter: “If you were to pick one guy you were going to take with you, I have a lot of candidates I feel really good about having my back, but Wayne would be the first I’d choose.”
Tags: Derrick Mason, Jeremy Kerley, Kyle Wilson, Marcus Dixon, Plaxico Burress, Rex Ryan, Ropati Pitoitua, Shaun Ellis, Sione Pouha, Wayne Hunter
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