Good article by Jenny.
The learning doesn't stop for Jets rookie Vladimir Ducasse
Published: Monday, June 21, 2010, 10:00 AM
Jenny Vrentas/The Star-Ledger
During last week's Jets mini-camp, Kris Jenkins turned at least one play into a lesson for Vladimir Ducasse.
The 10th-year nose tackle, matched up on the rookie, noticed he was leaning forward too much. So he made a veteran move: He took advantage on the play, pulling Ducasse off-balance and getting past him, but then took him aside afterward.
"He did what he had to do," Ducasse said, "then he told me after, 'It’s body leverage.' I was leaning too much."
These are the kind of lessons Ducasse, who has been taking reps at the first-team left guard spot formerly occupied by Alan Faneca, has been trying to rapidly absorb in the weeks since the Jets drafted him in the second round.
This past weekend, Ducasse was at Branford High School in Connecticut, helping out at a football camp for 8 to 14-year-olds organized by his agent, Joe Linta. But then it was back to New Jersey, where the Jets rookies will continue working out until July 9 and Ducasse will use his six-week break to get up to NFL speed as much as possible.
"I don’t have any plans," Ducasse said of his summer, "just staying and working on techniques."
He feels he has made important strides since April, in large part thanks to offensive line coach Bill Callahan, a technician of the position. Ducasse said Callahan has been "coaching him hard," with an eye for details like correct hand placement and footwork. On the days during the offseason when the Jets did not have a practice, rookies would spent part of their day doing position drills, emphasizing correct technique to build muscle memory.
Ducasse said he has received plenty of tips from his fellow offensive linemen, even second-year guard Matt Slauson, with whom he is competing for the starting job.
Some of the best help has actually come from the defense. Along with the tips Jenkins and others have given him, Ducasse said the hardest part so far has been understanding the Jets' defense, with its varied blitzes. Even in OTA practices, he could tell why the Jets had the No. 1 defense in the league last year -- and how seeing their complicated scheme daily would accelerate his learning.
While Ducasse appreciates the leaps he needs to make, as he goes from Division 1-AA left tackle to contender for the Jets' opening-day left guard, he's also the opposite of overwhelmed.
"Vladimir does not lack confidence," said Kevin Jones, his coach at Stamford High and now a scout for Linta. "So every day when I ask, 'Hey how did it go?', it's 'Hey, everything's good.' Or, 'Veterans treating you, OK?' He says, 'Oh, they’re treating me fine.' For him, this is his life, and he takes it one day at a time."
He's done so since age 15, when he and his brother, MacArthur, came to the U.S. from Haiti because their father wanted them to receive a better education. Jones recalled how Ducasse learned to speak English in a matter of months, one reason why he doesn't doubt his former player's ability to master an offense.
The future could hold many things, including opportunities to aid the homeland where his father still lives, both the lingering devastation of the January earthquake as well as the deeper issues. But everything starts with the opportunity Ducasse has now.
And he's approaching it with the frame of mind Callahan has already drilled into him.
"No one’s ever going to be perfect, but if you try to put in someone’s mind that you want it to be perfect, they’ll do a better job at it," Ducasse said. "He wants me to do the best I can."
* * *
We know how Ducasse is spending his summer. Starting tomorrow, we'll have a series of questionnaires on nj.com from a handful of Jets -- starters and back-ups -- about their summer plans, goals for the season and more.
So don't worry, there's still plenty of info coming your way in the six weeks between now and training camp.