Updated, 4:35 p.m. ET
“The plan” was hinted at by Rex Ryan a few months ago and has been referred to a few times since then.
And today, with the Jets veterans working out at the Atlantic Health Training Center during a Phase 2 practice of their offseason program and then meeting with reporters at midday, a little more of “the plan” was revealed in the locker room:
Q will be playing some OLB.
“Yeah, I definitely think it’s going to open up opportunities for me,” the always affable Quinton Coples said with a bigger smile than usual of rushing the quarterback from a standup position. “It’s going to help me get to the quarterback very efficiently.”
There are questions with “the plan,” of course. Coples thinks he’ll still play in the range of 280 to 285 pounds. While that’ll be a load for opposing tackles, tight ends and backs to handle, will it be too big a load for him to carry for 60 minutes a game? Will it take too long to get familiar with playing the run or playing in coverage from a two-point stance? Is Q permanently a ‘backer or will he be a hybrid?
All these things remain to play out and work on throughout the offseason, next month’s full-squad minicamp and Cortland training camp. But one thing Coples repeated today was that it didn’t seem to him that “the plan” was just hatched by the Jets this year.
“I think he had a plan for me, not knowing if he was going to draft me,” Coples recalled of the predraft workout that Ryan put him through at North Carolina’s pro day in 2012. “The workout he had for me at Carolina, I think he had a plan for me as far as playing outside linebacker from there. I think things worked out well. I fell down to 16, he picked me up, so it worked out perfect. Last year was a trial year to see how things went, and now we’ve got more depth on the defensive front, so it’ll be a perfect time.”
To be sure, Ryan and coordinator Dennis Thurman are not declaring a position change. Ryan has reminded that the Jets coach a multiple defense with multiple roles for many of the players in that unit, and Coples, with his versatility, flexibility and athleticism, is one of those players. Coples said today he will still be putting his hand in the dirt quite a bit, depending on the call.
But Ryan gave a greater hint of his thinking during his February remarks at this year’s combine.
“I see Quinton as a guy that can maybe be more of an edge presence than he was that first year,” Ryan said then, “but having him go through that, putting him over a guard, putting him over tackles, even over centers, I think it’s good because when you put him over tight ends, it’s a lot easier to knock those guys back and you have a lot of confidence when you face those double-teams. That was kind of what we did with him, but I’m expecting big things from him. Like I said, I think he’s just now scratching the surface.”
Coples had another way of talking about the implementation of “the plan.”
“Things,” he said, “are starting to develop.”
Hayden’s Continuing Higher Education
Hayden Smith made it through year one as a “cross-training” athlete, someone who wasn’t changing positions but whole sports. The tight end who hails from “Down Under” as well as “a Mile High” and “from Across the Pond” said he’s getting more comfy with the surroundings in this neck of the woods, even though in his second year in the NFL he’s already learning his second offense from new OC Marty Mornhinweg.
“I feel a lot more comfortable the second time around,” Smith said. “I don’t have to spend so much time on the details of the game itself, so at least all that’s kind of taken care of this time so I can just focus on the offense itself. There’s new things to learn there, but there’s a lot of common threads, and that’s just knowing football. So there’s a lot less on my plate from that standpoint.”
That was apparent to at least one interested observer this afternoon.
“Hayden looks sharp for a second-year football player,” QB Mark Sanchez said. “He looks awesome.”
Helping Smith with the transition is coach Steve Hagen, who comes to the Jets this year off of his four-year stint as Cleveland’s TEs coach. He’s in his ninth NFL campaign (the first eight came in two four-year hitches with the Browns) and spent two decades in the college coaching ranks besides.
” ‘Details make you dangerous’ — that’s one of his sayings,” Smith said. “He’s fantastic. The tight ends room is already littered with quotes from him. He’s a very intense guy with a great message and he’s delivering his message well.”
Familiar Voices, New Choir
Mike Westhoff, the Jets’ venerable special teams coach who just retired after last season, and Ray Lucas, the former Jets QB who’s been a mainstay of SNY’s Jets postgame shows for five years, have been added to ESPN New York 98.7 FM’s pregame show, joining host Don LaGreca and analyst and former Jets LB standout Greg Buttle.
“Our radio broadcast is an integral part of our fans’ game-day experience,” said Jets president Neil Glat. “We’re confident that adding two veterans, Ray Lucas and Coach Westhoff, to our already strong roster of on-air talent should enhance our fans’ knowledge and enjoyment of our games.”
Westhoff and Lucas will also make regular appearances on ESPN’s studio programming throughout the season, and Lucas will continue in his role with SNY.
Holt from Downtown … Colorado Springs
Speaking of a Rocky Mountain high (Smith played college hoops for Denver’s Metropolitan State) reminds me we want to wish a fantastic career to John Holt, who was our intern and reporter for most of the last year.
John had a great sports background and writing experience from North Carolina and Ole Miss, and he put that to good use from last year’s training camp all the way through doing the lion’s share of the work on our eight-part predraft position-by-position series. But John’s love is basketball and he’ll get the chance to pursue that goal with USA Basketball’s Web site. Hopefully, he and his dad have safely and successfully concluded their two-thirds-of-the-country drive from Newark to, yes, snowy Colorado Springs.
It wouldn’t surprise us to find a great rivalry spring up in the next few years between John and Nick Gallo, our previous intern/reporter who for the last two seasons has been working with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
All the best out West, Holty.
Tags: Dennis Thurman, Hayden Smith, John Holt, Mike Westhoff, Quinton Coples, Ray Lucas, Rex Ryan
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