It must be dizzying, to be an NFL free agent having just signed on the dotted line with a different team than the one you broke into the pro game with five years before. New faces, new home office, new part of the country.
Yet LaRon Landry looked as comfy in his molded plastic office chair in a meeting room at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on Monday as if he were stretched out in his Barcalounger back in Virginia.
“This feels like home,” Landry, the former Redskins safety, told me within hours of signing a deal to join the Jets and patrol the deep middle of their offense this coming season. “This was the right thing to do.”
Landry knew a little bit of what to expect, and for that he and the Jets can thank his brother, Dawan.
“Dawan’s older by two years … I’m the better one,” he said with a proud sibling’s smile. “Rex Ryan and Dennis Thurman were coaching my brother in Baltimore. He said they were players’ coaches, they’re about winning.
“But ultimately it was my decision to make. I had to come out here and see for myself. It’s a nice facility. The Jets have a great owner and a great coach. It’s home here. I’m glad to be playing in a defense where my ability will be used to help my teammates. I’m all about winning, too.”
Landry exudes football, muscularity and competitiveness. He’s a friendly guy with a strong handshake and an edge to him that hints at his hard-hitting reputation that he brought with him from LSU as the Redskins’ sixth pick of the 2007 draft.
I asked him what number he’d be wearing as a Jet.
“I’ve always been 30,” he said. ” ‘Dirty 30.’ That’s what I’ve been since my freshman year in college.”
Dirty in a good way, though, I suggested.
“Yeah, dirty in a good way,” he agreed.
The Jets and their fans are eager to have a new safety to help clean things up when the Green & White go up against the top tight ends, in particular the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez tag team. Landry is well aware of that aspect of his new home office.
“I like a challenge. I like being physical,” he said. “With that said, you know about the tight end situation the Patriots can bring with their mismatch. I’m up for it. It’s all football. The lines on the field don’t change. The grass — well, the grass and FieldTurf don’t change.”
Another part of football is that sometimes elusive perfect health. Football watchers clucked over Landry’s last two seasons with Washington. After three years of missing only one start and ascending to the top of some independent ratings groups among NFL safeties, he played in barely half of the ‘Skins games in ’10-11 due, it was said, to a problem Achilles tendon.
Landry corrected that misunderstanding for any concerned fans and reporters.
“The Achilles was a significant injury the year before last,” he said. “Last year it was a bone injury in my heel instead of the Achilles. They thought it was the same injury as the year before but it was a misdiagnosis type of deal.
“I feel great. I’m fine. If it was an issue, if it was something that couldn’t be corrected, I wouldn’t be here.”
That being said, GM Mike Tannenbaum talked with reporters this afternoon on a conference call and said there’s still medical and training work for Landry and the Jets’ teams to do this offseason.
“We’ll be intelligent in our approach. We don’t want to put any limits on LaRon,” Mike T said. “We’ll be smart about it and work with him to make sure he’s ready to go on opening day.”
Landry is an interesting dude. Redskins fans were well aware of his pet, a white-faced Capuchin monkey he named Gucci. And he’s into Twitter, recently passing 40,000 followers on his page under the nom de tweet of @MrLandry30. On his page you can read some of his football aphorisms and follow exchanges with his fans, some of them friendly and some more of the sparring variety. It’s all about the edge.
“It’s about me playing with passion. Passion comes with attitude,” he said. “Being a Jet, they will get everything out of me. I’m a passionate player.”
On the Airwaves
Sorry for the late notice but three Jets will be doing interviews on New York radio stations this afternoon. Tannenbaum will be on ESPN 1050 at 3:30 p.m. ET, Landry will come in right behind Mr. T at 3:45 on ESPN 1050, and Mark Sanchez is scheduled for 5:40 p.m. on WFAN 660.
Tags: Aaron Hernandez, Baltimore Ravens, Dawan Landry, Dennis Thurman, Gucci, LaRon Landry, Mark Sanchez, Mike Tannenbaum, New England Patriots, Rex Ryan, Rob Gronkowski
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