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Thread: Vrentas: Josh Baker working to fill versatile role in Jets offense

  1. #1

    Vrentas: Josh Baker working to fill versatile role in Jets offense

    CORTLAND, N.Y. — In the Jets’ first padded practice of training camp, Josh Baker promptly took a hit that broke his nose and released a stream of blood. A few days later, he played it down by talking solely cosmetics.

    “Does it look bad?” he asked. “It looked bad before it happened, so I think it made it look better, somehow, someway.”

    The Jets’ second-year player, listed as a hybrid fullback and tight end, knows how to look at situations from two sides. Like his performance so far in training camp.

    On one hand, Baker has been getting a good share of reps, mixing in with the first- and second-team offense at multiple spots on the field. On the other hand, he has a high volume of information he needs to master and laments the mental errors he knows are holding him back.

    “Jack of all trades,” Baker said, “master of none.”

    But Baker’s versatility is what is intriguing for the Jets, and what could earn him a slice of playing time in Tony Sparano’s new offense. He has been working at what the Jets call the “F” position, which Sparano says is one of the most difficult positions in his system to learn, outside of quarterback.

    Sparano says Baker can be used in the backfield, or as an in-line blocking tight end, or sent out on routes to catch passes. To explain, he points to a nine-year veteran on the Washington Redskins.

    “He has a unique skill set to me right now,” Sparano said. “Different than a lot of players I’ve coached in the past. He kind of reminds me a little bit — and I don’t like comparing players, probably shouldn’t do it — like a Chris Cooley-type of skill set.”

    Coach Rex Ryan’s analogy for Baker is a Swiss Army knife. But with that, Ryan adds, comes a lot of responsibility.

    Baker has had flashes in camp, such as a caught touchdown that was part of Tim Tebow’s domination of a goal-line drill, and a nice block Friday on a pitch to running back Shonn Greene. And he’s earned points for his toughness, playing through the broken nose and a more recent banged-up knee.

    But Baker also points out the blocks he’s missed and the passes he’s dropped. At 6-3 and 244 pounds, he considers himself a good fit for Sparano’s system, but that’s just physically.

    “I need to cut down on my mental errors,” he said. “That’s been my big fallback, and that’s not helping the team. So I’ve got to get in the books more.”

    Baker doesn’t want to miss out on his opportunity with the Jets, and again that relates to seeing both sides in any situation.

    The 25-year-old has had a winding road to the NFL. A promising college career at the University of Delaware hit a speed bump when he received a one-year suspension for violating university rules. He attended a community college in Texas and returned to Delaware for his senior year, but tore his ACL in his first game back.

    Baker transferred to Division 2 Northwest Missouri State so he could play one more collegiate season. He signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent last summer, appearing in 11 games with one touchdown after being called up to the 53-man roster in late September.

    “I just wanted to play football that bad,” he said when asked what kept him going. “I knew it was my calling. … I got a criminal justice degree, but I don’t know. Definitely not ready to hang up the cleats and chase down criminals.”

    Baker said he’s driven each day by the fight for a roster spot. So it’s no surprise that when asked to describe the multipurpose “F” position he plays, Baker instead put it this way: “I’m trying to earn a spot, first and foremost.”

    http://www.nj.com/jets/index.ssf/201..._hes_in_a.html

  2. #2
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    I hope we get something out of him this year. He is a versatile player. Would be nice to have someone complement Keller.
    Last edited by DDNYjets; 08-06-2012 at 09:13 AM.

  3. #3
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    Excited about Baker's contribution ... I hope we get to see lots of him this year.

  4. #4
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    Baker became a favorite of mine last year, nice article.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by C Mart View Post
    The Jets’ second-year player, listed as a hybrid fullback and tight end, knows how to look at situations from two sides. Like his performance so far in training camp.

    Sparano says Baker can be used in the backfield, or as an in-line blocking tight end, or sent out on routes to catch passes. To explain, he points to a nine-year veteran on the Washington Redskins.

    “He has a unique skill set to me right now,” Sparano said. “Different than a lot of players I’ve coached in the past. He kind of reminds me a little bit — and I don’t like comparing players, probably shouldn’t do it — like a Chris Cooley-type of skill set.”
    http://www.nj.com/jets/index.ssf/201..._hes_in_a.html
    I'd of course hesitate to put him in the same class as Cooley, but would love to see him be a guy that can sneak out of the backfield and pick up first downs off play-action. Other than Leon, Jets haven't had an effective guy in the flats since Richie Anderson. Maybe Baker can be that type of player.

  6. #6
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    I liked what I saw out of Baker and I liked what I saw out of Cumberland. But, in addition to those guys, we also need a big, brawny blocking TE - at least I would think we do. Carrying 4 TDs might not be a luxury we can afford right now.

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