Mike Tannenbaum made the first reference to the fact in his news conference Tuesday evening. With the trade for Jason Smith from St. Louis, the Jets now have three of the first 11 players chosen in the 2009 draft on their roster. Smith was No. 2 overall, the Jets traded up for Mark Sanchez at No. 5, and they brought in No. 11, Aaron Maybin, a year ago.
Some ifs are involved here, but if Sanchez takes off this year, if Maybin is launched from his personal cannon and never slows down, and if Smith fulfills or exceeds his role as the OL’s new “sixth man,” the Jets have had one hell of an ’09 draft.
Smith already has an idea about that.
“I met Sanchez one night when we were somewhere, I don’t know where,” the newest Jets vet said in his first get-together with Jets reporters this afternoon. “I kept up with him a little bit. I always thought he was a good guy. I thought he was solid, fighting for what he does. You all know how he is here, but I always thought he was a leader, even when he was at USC, just kind of from his demeanor.
“And I don’t remember Maybin. I remember the name but I don’t know where he’s from. Fifty-one? I know he’s fast too. Learned that yesterday. Very fast.”
Maybin is a fast-track work in progress, and he’s happy to serve as a role model for Smith in this new green landscape that the 6’5″, 305-pounder now finds himself in.
“Why not? Change of scenery helps people out a lot, especially myself,” said Maybin, sitting just a few stalls away from Smith’s new location in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room. “It’s different positions, a little bit different timing, but it’s kind of a similar situation. At the end of the day, a lot of players need that change of scenery.”
Smith, something of a cerebral tackle, used another metaphor to describe his situation this summer with St. Louis and now in North Jersey.
“I appreciate everything the Rams did for me as far as allowing me to be a part of the organization,” he said. “It’s kind of like turning a new page of the chapter. I’m happy to be a Jet.”
So is Rex Ryan. Although the Jets head coach said their intention had been to retain Wayne Hunter in the role as swing tackle and blocking tight end, when the Hunter-for-Smith deal was proposed by the Rams, it made sense to the Jets.
“You’ve got a great athletic tool set if you’re the second overall pick. Jason’s got great movement skills,” Ryan said. “We wouldn’t have considered the trade if we didn’t think he could play those roles. Clearly we think Jason can play those roles. Also, quite honestly, we got a guy who’s five years younger. We feel good about it, and I feel good for Wayne going back with Brian [Schottenheimer, now the Rams OC], where’ he’s familiar with the system.”
Rex said Smith is getting his crash course in the Jets’ scheme, with help from Maybin and others, and that he should play in Thursday’s preseason finale at Philadelphia. “I want to see him for 10 plays,” he said. “I don’t even know if that’s possible. He’s supposed to be a sharp young man. Let’s see what he can do.”
Smith talked about the pressure that was placed on him, as the “second-best player of the 2009 draft,” to “fill the shoes” of the retiring Orlando Pace at tackle for the Rams.
“He was an eight-time Pro Bowler, I believe. There’s not many guys that can do that through the course of their career, let alone play eight years,” Smith said. “I made the statement before that he has his own shoes and I have mine. It’s his life, so I never look at it that way. No disrespect, but a lot of people with a pen in their hand looked at it that way. That’s their opinion.”
Of course, if Smith thought there was media pressure in St. Louis, welcome to New York. He was asked today if he expects to become a starter, which would mean moving ahead of Austin Howard, who just got the starting RT job that Hunter held last year. The new Jet wasn’t going there.
“I don’t make predictions,” he said. “I just focus on what’s going on right now.”
Right now he’s in the mix on the Jets’ OL.
“Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder,” he said, repeating another metaphor he uttered earlier in his impromptu news conference. “To somebody, I was beautiful.”
Ryan said he thought “there’s a possibility of John Conner getting some reps. We haven’t really used the fullback.” He may also look at semi-converted LB Nick Bellore and rookie “A-back” Terrance Ganaway at FB as well. … The coach surprised 19 Jets veterans — including QBs Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, CB Darrelle Revis and WR Santonio Holmes — by excusing them from today’s light practice to attend a six-hour “leadership training seminar” at an undisclosed location in nearby Bedminster. Ryan got the idea after he and his coaches were involved in a similar session in May. … undrafted rookie CB Ryan Steed was waived.
Tags: Aaron Maybin, Brian Schottenheimer, Jason Smith, John Conner, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Wayne Hunter
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