There is no telling how long the three newest Jets will stick around. But all three waiver acquisitions come with good character references on the Green & White payroll.
TE Konrad Reuland, as you may have heard, is pretty close with Mark Sanchez.
“We used to play AAU basketball together, in sixth grade. We were seventh at the nationals that year,” Reuland reminisced for reporters in front of his new locker in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on Monday evening. “I was a year behind him in high school [at Mission Viejo HS in California] and we finished second in the country when he was a senior and I was a junior.
“We still both go back to the same place in the offseason, we throw together in the offseason. I think the timing’s there.”
Sanchez’s input was solicited by the Jets, but Mike Tannenbaum, Scott Cohen and the Jets’ pro personnel people made the waiver claim for other reasons as well. With Josh Baker’s season-ending knee injury, Hayden Smith’s continued seasoning on the practice squad, Dustin Keller’s squeaky hammy and Jeff Cumberland coming off a concussion, another tight end on the roster doesn’t hurt.
And at 6’4″, 260, Reuland’s got Cumberland’s size and it is hoped he’ll be throw a few effective blocks on the perimeter for the Jets’ ground game.
Have the Jets told him how he fits into the offensive scheme?
“It’s so early, my first day, so I’m not really 100 percent sure,” he said. “I’ve always tried to be a guy that can do everything. I don’t like to be categorized as a blocking tight end or a receiving tight end. It’s what I strive for.”
San Fran liked Reuland’s striving enough that Jim Harbaugh, his coach at Stanford, brought him to the 49ers as an undrafted free agent after last year’s lockout. He’s been a Niners final cut twice. Last season they brought him back to the practice squad for the whole season. This year he said there was a possibility of another return but “I wasn’t holding my breath.”
The other two waiver pickups had the Sparano/Miami connection. Clyde Gates was profiled Monday by reporter John Holt. And Isaako Aaitui, is more than just the letters in a couple of bad Scrabble racks. He is the other ex-Dolphin, a 6’4″, 315-pound DT, who said he was reeling just a bit from his release by the ‘Fins, who signed him to their practice squad for a week last season, when Sparano was their head coach, then re-signed him on Jan. 30 before making him a final cut on Friday.
“It’s been a shocking moment, still,” the UNLV product said. “The good part for me is that I’ve got another opportunity and I’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Aaitui (his name is pronounced ee-sah-AH-ko ah-ah-TOO-ee), like Reuland, is a first-year player who has some versatility to him. In other words, he’s not just a backup at the now crowded nose tackle position that includes Sione Po‘uha, Kenrick Ellis and undrafted FA Damon Harrison.
“Right now they want me to learn both” DT and NT, Aaitui said. “It doesn’t really matter to me what they want me to be. I’m going to do everything they’re telling me to do and do it at a high level.”
Versatility, picking up the system quickly, plain old determination and just a dash of health and roster luck will be key for these players to stick around long enough to get past Buffalo and maybe get on the plane for Pittsburgh the week after.
Updated: 7:48PM ET
Two Late Cuts Announced
The Jets this evening announced two roster cuts and no signings. One signing is imminent, though, because one of the cuts was punter T.J. Conley. The team was working out some new players this afternoon, among whom was at least one punter, but no announcement has been made about the new kicker’s identity.
The other cut, as luck would have it, was Aaitui. We’ll leave the section about Isaako above in place just as a reminder of how fleeting a player’s stay on a team at this time of year can be.
Also, the Jets have not confirmed reports tonight that their new punter is former Charger Robert Malone.
Tags: final cuts, Isaako Aaitui, Konrad Reuland, Mark Sanchez, Tony Sparano, waiver acquisitions
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