The pressure is on top Jets pick D'Brickashaw Ferguson to get the Jets' offensive line back to prominence.
No one cares that he is a black belt anymore. They do not want to hear about how he is named after a famous literary character. With the opening of mini-camp, the time has come for the Jets number one draft pick, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and his fellow rookie teammates to get down to work. No one knows that better than Ferguson himself.
“We’re out here just trying to work real hard and become a better team,” Ferguson said Friday. The 312-pound offensive tackle understands the pressure that comes with being picked fourth overall in April’s NFL Draft. He does not concern himself with the thought that the Jets chose to pick him over the more glorified, skill position players like Matt Leinart or Reggie Bush. Ferguson is focused on working hard and doing everything he can do to become the best player he can be for the team.
The Freeport native also dodged questions about his potential to become one of the greatest tackles the National Football League has ever seen. Ferguson is simply trying to work on the things he can control in the present.
“I can’t comment on what my legacy will be,” Ferguson said. “I’m just trying to pay my dues, work hard, and do my part.”
Ferguson admits that he did not expect the media circus that surrounded him in the locker room after practice, but being from New York, he has seen the attention that athletes can get. He is working hard to make his transition to the next level as smooth as possible, something that has been helped by having family members so close.
“It is great to be back home,” Ferguson said with a grin. “Whenever you go to a new program like the NFL, it is going to be a transition but the fact that I have family members close by helps.”
Going through the transition process with his fellow rookies has also made things easier on Ferguson. Thus far the rookie has enjoyed being around his new teammates as well as head coach Eric Mangini and the Jets coaching staff. In the locker room and on the field, Ferguson is being treated just like any other rookie.
“It doesn’t matter what you did at Ohio State or Virginia or wherever you’re coming from,” Mangini said of the rookies on Friday. “All that matters is trying to find where you fit in on this team and how you can contribute to the Jets.”
Ferguson showed some maturity as well, deflecting questions from the media about quarterback Chad Pennington’s comments that he will be back by the start of the 2006 campagin. While the rookie said he has met Pennington and thinks he is a great guy, he expressed that he is just looking to take care of business, regardless of Pennington’s status.
“I think it’s great no matter who it is,” Ferguson told reporters after Friday’s morning practice. “I just would love to be on this team and participate any way I can.”
While the 6’5 goliath admitted that he had some butterflies reporting to practice for the first time, he said he quickly settled in as he started to get down to work on the field. During the afternoon session, some of Ferguson’s coveted athletic ability was on display as the big man ran sprints and displayed some nimble footwork. Still, there were no pads in the rookie mini-camp and any drills that Ferguson participated stressed learning his new assignments and making adjustments to his new playbook.
“It is hard to really appreciate the big men in a camp like this,” Mangini said in Friday’s press conference. “I think once we put the pads on and start to go full contact, we can really start to appreciate the physicality that a guy like Ferguson brings to the table.”
Ferguson may emerge to be a star at the left end of the Jets’ offensive line, but for now he is just working to make the adjustment to the NFL like all the other Jets rookies. Rookie camp concluded Sunday and Ferguson will likely not report to Hempstead again until the full-team mini-camp in June. Hopefully the team can get a glimpse of what Ferguson can do when the pads are on next time around. For now, it is all about finding a role and making the switch to the NFL.