New aquisition Tim Dwight will look to contribute in many ways for the Jets this season. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Listed at just 5’8” and 180 pounds, wide receiver/kick returner Tim Dwight is just about the smallest player on the Jets 92-man roster. However, it is the veteran journeyman that may play the biggest role in adjusting the team to its new offense under offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
Dwight is 31 years old and has been in the NFL for nine years. The Jets are his fourth team after stays in Atlanta, San Diego, and most recently New England. It is his experience with the Chargers and Patriots that makes Dwight such a valuable asset to a young team making the transition to a new offensive system.
Schottenheimer was the offensive coordinator while Dwight was in San Diego and head coach Eric Mangini was the Patriots’ defensive coordinator while Dwight played with them last year.
“Tim’s experience and wisdom is invaluable to this offense, that’s why we worked so hard to get him here,” Mangini said of the Iowa alum. “He worked with Brian in San Diego so he knows the system and he was also with me in New England last year so he understands the philosophical side a little bit too.”
No one understands his role better than Dwight himself. The leader of the receiving core understands that part of the reason the Jets signed him in the offense was to be a mentor to the squad’s younger players as they learn the system.
“I’m feeling like an old guy around here a little bit,” Dwight joked. “I’m kind of a mentor. I know the offense so I’ve been helping out some guys and just giving them little tidbits here and there.”
Mangini admits that the Jets did pursue Dwight to be almost like another coach on the offense. However, the veteran has had a strong camp thus far and it looks like he could play a bigger role than expected on the field. Aside from his kick and punt returning ability, Dwight has shown quickness, good hands, and fearlessness when it comes to running routes over the middle of the field. All these tools could help him land a spot as the team’s third down possession receiver, a role previously filled by fellow undersized wide receiver Wayne Chrebet. Still, Dwight remains modest, which is why he fits the mold for Mangini, who has emphasized that players must find out how they can help the team win.
“I’m just trying to get in and play,” Dwight said. “I’m going into my ninth year in the league now and I haven’t gotten to play a whole lot the last two years. I’m just starting to get back into being a receiver so anywhere they ask me to come in and play, I’m looking forward to it.”
Still, even if Dwight never steps on to the field this season, he has left an indelible mark on this young team. He has been constantly offering advice to younger players like rookie quarterback Kellen Clemens and rookie wide receiver Brad Smith. Dwight’s work with Smith has been very important for the rookie, who is making the transition from college quarterback to NFL wide out.
“Tim has been great, I’ve learn a lot from him,” Smith said. “I’m in a new position so everything is pretty new to me. He’s helped me with stuff like route-running and hand placement, those types of things.”
Dwight had two great catches in third down situations in Saturday’s preseason game against the Buccaneers. The vet continues to work hard and is hoping to surprise some critics, who doubt him because of his age.
“It’s nice to show people you can still run with the young guns,” Dwight said. “Sometimes I even surprise myself and I outrun them, that’s a good feeling.”
Having Dwight in Green and White is a good feeling for Mangini and his staff. Few players could step up into a leadership role so quickly the way Dwight has. He has clearly stepped up as one of the core leaders on offense after just a few short months with the team. His savvy and experience could be more valuable than anything else the Jets have on the offensive side of the ball.
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