Florham Park, N.J.- It may only be Kenrick Ellis’ third official day as a member of the Jets, but just talk to him, his coach or his teammates and it’s clear the rather large man fits in just perfectly around here.
Football teams often make the mistake of trying to squeeze players into a system where they simply don’t fit, it’s the whole can’t fit a square peg in a round hole kind of thing. With Ellis’ size there are probably quite a few holes he can’t squeeze through (weighing in 6′5″ 346 pounds), but he’s having no such problem here as he’s already comfortably settling into his role as a member of the New York Jets organization.
“Camp has been really good, you know it’s a learning experience.” Ellis said after walk-thru today, “I’m just out here trying to make the club, you know, learn from the vets and just try to absorb as much knowledge as I can right now.”
After only a few days as a Jet, rookie DL Kendrick Ellis is already drinking Rex Ryan's Kool Aid (JetsInsider.com Photo)
The most difficult part of the learning experience for Ellis is the same as its been for just about every rookie before him. When asked what’s been the biggest adjustment for him from college Ellis said, “Basically just the speed of the game, it’s a lot faster than college (and) a little bit more physical, but that comes with the territory. I just got to keep on working and try and get better.”
Then of course there was the issue of learning the playbook.
“Oh man, it was crazy.” Ellis said of his first look at the playbook. “I was kind of confused, some things are similar to college, but just the terminology. Just getting used to the new terminology and getting used to the new types of plays, but it’s all football, you know, just football.”
Luckily for Ellis he has two very willing and able tutors to learn from in fellow defensive linemen Sione Pouha and Mike Devito. When asked what type of advice he was receiving Ellis said, ”They’re just giving me, ‘just stay in there rook,’ things are going to get difficult, things aren’t always going to go the way you want them to, but after every play just shake it off and then you know, on to the next one. My teammates are always saying, ‘On to the next one,’ (Mike) Devito is always telling me onto the next play, it doesn’t matter just shake it off and keep moving.”
Quoting Jay-Z, yeah that sounds about par for the course around here, its also the exact mind state that causes Rex Ryan to consistently remind us all of just how resilient this team is. Make a bad play and it’s on to the next one, until eventually you start to get it right the first time.
“You can’t coach 6′5″ 350 (pounds), you can not coach that.” Ryan said about the rookie, “But the good thing about him too is that he moves well. You know this is a big guy that moves well, he practices hard. Now does his technique have to come? Absolutely. But I’ve been impressed with him. Mentally he’s, he made one mistake on a lineman and then today and he’s got his little wristband (of plays), on. So he’s making sure that he’s ready to go.”
It’s one thing to put expectations on a player because of his size and strength, but the real test of what that player can do for you is often in how they approach their craft and everyone around here is really liking what they have seen and heard from this young man.
“I like the way he’s approached this job and I just think he’s going to have a big presence in there, obviously we have a great nose tackle, with Sione (Pouha), so this guy can add to what we already have.” Ryan said, “I think there’s a spot where, he won’t be rushed in there, but don’t be surprised if he’s playing early for us too.”
Ryan definitely envisions Ellis being able to play a contributing role on this team sooner rather then later, but for now Ellis’ sole focus is trying to learn from those in front of him and make he sure he ends up on the final roster.
“Between ‘Bo (Pouha) and Devito, they’re the two starting tackles.” Ellis said, “I look towards them, everything they do I try to imitate it and perfect it in my own way. They’re quick, they’re strong, they’re physical. You know they’re Jets defensive tackles and I just try to do my best.”
Pouha confirms that he and Devito are helping Ellis make the transition, but he also says Ellis really doesn’t need that much help.
“I’m mean we’re going to do all we can, but I think just him himself brings a lot to the table.” Pouha said, “I mean he’s quick, he’s fast, he’s got a good work ethic. He’s got a motor, always moving so along with his strength, his youth, his motor he’s a great fit.”
After two full season with Rex Ryan as the Jets coach, Jets fans already know what Ryan means when he says, ‘Play like a Jet,’ and Ellis is proving himself as a rather quick study, already sounding like a loyal and dedicated Ryan soldier.
“Oh, he’s the best coach I’ve ever played for, (the) coolest coach.” Ellis said when asked what he thinks of his new coach. “His defense is real different and he always says ‘play like a Jet,’ and I just want to ‘play like a Jet,’ and make the club.”
Three days, that’s all it took for Ellis to learn the mantra ‘play like a Jet,’ and his teammates will tell you he is already acting like one because, well, he already is a ‘Jet,’ through and through.
“Yup, he’s already in.” Pouha said, “His tickets been bought on the train and so he’s on the train and we’re getting ready to roll.”
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