Now begins the time on the NFL calendar for players to power down, recharge and gear up for the hard six or seventh months ahead.
With the end of the Jets’ minicamp, said veteran guard Brandon Moore, it’s time for “some rest, conditioning, lifting, getting ready for camp and just enjoying your free time because you won’t have any for a while. If you feel like it, a little extra time with your [play]book, just open it up and keep things fresh for a little bit. Get away. As a coach told me a long time ago, just enjoy your time with your family.”
Most players have already begun doing just that. But one Jets vet, even more senior than Moore, will be bucking the trend.
“My intention from day one of camp is to be back 100 percent, not taking any drills off, going through everything at 100 percent full speed,” said linebacker Bryan Thomas. “So that’s why I’m going to pretty much stay here the whole time.
“I pretty much go home every now and then at this time of year,” he added, “but this is new for me. You want to get away, enjoy your family, enjoy your kids. This is not something I normally do.”
BT has been making fine strides from last year’s Achilles tear at Baltimore and the subsequent surgery and rehab. He did participate in the minicamp on a limited basis.
“Bryan was in for pass drills only, but he took a couple of snaps with the team as well,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “He actually looked good running around, so that was encouraging.”
“Over these three days of the minicamp, I got some good work in. I felt pretty good,” Thomas said. “Hopefully I’ll be 100 percent once I come back, pretty much just trying be 100 percent so I can do all the drills and not limited drills.”
Thomas has been a steady performer for the Jets since they made him the 22nd overall pick of the 2002 draft out of Alabama-Birmingham. He’s had 31 career sacks, six fumbles forced and six recovered, his first pro interception in the Jets’ most recent playoff game at Pittsburgh in the 2010 AFC title game, and 438 tackles.
He had played in 124 consecutive games, including playoffs, until going down against the Ravens last year. It was natural speculation —and Thomas even said the thought crossed his mind as well — that his Jets career and maybe his NFL career might have just ended.
That’s not the way Ryan, Mike Tannenbaum and the Jets saw it. They re-signed him in March, knowing the hard work he’d put in to get back to contributing to the defensive effort.
Thomas riffed on the Ryan/Mike Pettine scheme that he’ll be entering for the fourth season.
“I love it. I wouldn’t change anything about it. You can’t help but love it,” he said. “Pretty much all the guys, you have so many different things you have to learn. That’s what’s so unique about it. You’re not just stationary. Some defenses, you might see the right end just comes out at right end the whole time.
“This defense is multiple — multiple personnel, multiple formations — and you can’t help but love it. I’ve been here for four years. I love the defensive staff’s coaching style, just their attitude toward things. We’ve brought in a new D-line coach, Karl Dunbar. He’s been great. I get to work with him a little. He’s been very informative. And Mike Smith, he’s with the outside linebackers full-time now. He’s doing a really good job.”
Thomas is doing well as well. Will he be full-go for Cortland in late July? Will he retain his starting job? Will there be bumps in the road for BT on the way to Buffalo on opening day?
That remains to be seen. But for the next five weeks, Thomas will be at his North Jersey home away from home, chilling a little yet working a lot toward his 100 percent goal.
Tags: Bryan Thomas, Karl Dunbar, Mike Smith, Mike Tannenbaum, minicamp, Rex Ryan, training camp
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