Updated 1 p.m. EDT
It isn’t done too often, but there have been some success stories regarding defensive linemen who have jumped over the trench to play on the offensive line. The Jets have perhaps Exhibit A in the NFL right now in Brandon Moore.
And maybe they have Exhibit B in Matt Kroul.
“I found out two days ago,” Kroul told me on Sunday of the new position on his football résumé. “The last time I played on the offensive line? Probably my sophomore year in high school. Obviously the footwork, the lean, the body position, it’s all different. But a lot of it is football. It’s feet apart, hands inside.
“They told me to kind of learn offense and defense and then I can be there for either, if there are injuries or whatnot, and also hopefully to make this team, be a guy that can do everything — special teams, offense, defense.”
Kroul even got a number switch, from 98 in green, his number last season when he got his NFL debut with roles in six games, to 66 in white.
For some players, such a move might precede the next move into a cab for the airport. But Kroul has shown staying power as a pro. He set an Iowa record with 50 consecutive starts, then came to the Jets as an undrafted free agent in 2009 and stuck around.
Now head coach Rex Ryan is foreseeing a possible future for Kroul.
“Matt’s a smart guy. He can always pop over to defense,” Ryan said at today’s midday news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “His weights up to just over 310. … I know Bart [Scott] was calling him ‘the fat Faneca,’ making him feel good. But he looked pretty good over there.
“This guy’s a tough guy. He was an Iowa state champion in wrestling, so he’s got great balance. And he’s smart and tough. Just go look at our starting guard — I think Brandon’s the best guard in football, and he’s sitting over there as a former defensive lineman. Maybe Kroul will be one of those guys who plays 10 years as an offensive lineman.”
A big reason for this move is because of Moore, who remains on the Physically Unable to Perform list from his offseason hip surgery. But he’s also had a hand in this particular line dance.
“There’s some awesome veterans on this offensive line with Nick at center and Brandon,” Kroul said. “He’s a guy that made the switch, too, in his career. I definitely have some resources over there. And Coach [Bill] Callahan is one of the best O-line coaches in the league. I definitely have the right people in front of me.”
Kroul, who’s working at guard now and could eventually learn center as well, is eager to make this work.
“I haven’t established myself as a defensive lineman, but I’ve been there for two years on a good team, so teams know I can play defense,” he said. “If this switch happens for real, I’ll be the best I can be here and go with it.”
Rex on Wideouts
WR Plaxico Burress will again work individual drills today as he did yesterday, “and maybe we’ll get him a few more reps” in team drills, Ryan said. “Clearly I want to take it slow,” said the coach. “We’ll see how he progresses and we’ll definitely keep an eye on him.”
Rex is also eager to see Derrick Mason in his first practice wearing No. 85 in green (marking the start of the 14th straight year Mason will wear his favorite number). “I’d like to see Derrick get out there, run his pivot route and all that stuff. And I think we’ll see that today.”
Here’s a bit of trivial but impressive trivia about Mason: He can become the first player in NFL history to record at least 60-plus catches and 750-plus receiving yards in 12 consecutive seasons if he reaches those figures again this season. He’s currently tied with two other players at 11 straight seasons. Who are they? Answer below
Asked about punter and former Australian Rules athlete Chris Bryan, Ryan said: “The thing you notice about him is he takes about 4 yards to get the ball off. Most guys stride longer than that. And maybe it’s because he’s left-footed, but he just booms it. Westy’s doing different things with him. I’ve been impressed with him.”
Westy, of course, is ST coach Mike Westhoff. Ryan opened his news conference with a plug for the Westhoff bobble head promotion. Fans can preorder the bobble head, which won’t be manufactured unless the company making it gets 288 orders (and of course no orders will be processed unless the Westy collectible is made). “Westy’s bought 286 and I bought one,” said Rex, “so there’s still one more” that has to be sold.
Ryan was asked about the Jets’ young, still-under-the-radar but promising defensive line. We’ll have stories and video on the D-line but Ryan had an interesting take on how this line is influencing practices. “You look at that group out there now and there’s seven, eight guys you feel really good about,” he said. “Our second defensive line right now is so much better than our second offensive line. [Mark] Brunell’s back there and can’t even get a pass off. That group’s been really dominant. I think thats’ what’s tilting practices.”
Today’s afternoon training camp practice is closed to the public, but Tuesday’s practice is open. Wednesday is an off day, then open practices are scheduled from Thursday through Saturday. The first goal-line drills of camp are scheduled for Thursday. Rex: “It’ll actually be fun to go to practice that day.” … Trivia answer: Derrick Mason, Hall of Fame WR Jerry Rice and HOF-to-be TE Tony Gonzalez all have streaks of 11 seasons with at least 60 catches and 750 yards.
Tags: Brandon Moore, Chris Bryan, Derrick Mason, Matt Kroul, Mike Westhoff, Nick Mangold, Plaxico Burress, Rex Ryan
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