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Jets Ink TE Keller, only Gholston left

By Jets Insider.com Staff
July 18th, 2008
The Jets signed rookie TE Dustin Keller, LB Vernon Gholston in the only one left to sign. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
The Jets signed rookie TE Dustin Keller, LB Vernon Gholston in the only one left to sign. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
The team moved a step closer to locking up all of their draft picks by signing TE Dustin Keller to a multi-year contract.

Keller, the second of two first round picks the Jets had this season was drafted with the 30th pick out of Purdue. Details of his contract were not available at press time.

In a conference call with the media following his signing, the Lafayette Indiana native was happy he got his deal done before camp started.

"I knew that there wasn’t going to be a concern speaking to Mr. Tannenbaum and my agent Eugene Parker," said Keller. "They both agreed that they were going to get this contract done early and had good faith on both sides. There was really never any doubt in my mind that we were going to get this thing done on time."

On his excitement to officially start his NFL career…

I can’t even explain it. Yesterday I was sitting around all day waiting for all the stuff to be finished and it wasn’t me waiting for negotiations. The negotiations were done yesterday, but they were actually waiting to hear from the league office. I am happy that everything is done and to officially be a New York Jet. I am just happy that all that stuff is done now and we can get down to the real football business and get some pads on.

On how often he’s in touch with his agent during negotiations…

I usually talk to Eugene probably about once a week, if that, because I know the contracts are for the agent. It’s Eugene’s specialty and what he really does well. At that point, I really didn’t even try to keep in contact with him too much because I knew he was going to be getting down to the business. So, I really didn’t want to bother him with anything because I knew he was going to get me the best contract he possibly could. There were no concerns on my part in that aspect.

On why it was important to sign his contract before training camp…

I didn’t want to miss out on anything. When you’re going through training camp, they’re going to be re-installing a lot of stuff. Even though you’ve done a lot of the stuff during minicamp or OTAs, you’re not going to be completely fresh and remember everything the way that you did then. To go back over the basics and get everything like that is huge, especially for a rookie like me. I wanted to be there and not miss any meetings or anything like that. As far as my position, I am just trying to run this new offense and get everything down. I would say that was the biggest thing for me so far.

On what he’s been doing with the other rookies in the classroom…

I got into New York yesterday at 9 a.m., but I was just waiting around all day for the League to get back with them with everything. I didn’t get to do anything with the team yesterday. Today, as soon as the contract was signed, I got to go down and get a workout with the strength coach (Sal Alosi) and now I’m here with a few of my teammates and we’re about to start going over some of the film stuff.

On what it’s like for rookies during the “off-period” before training camp…

Well with the exception of practices, it’s kind of similar to minicamp in the aspect that we wake up early in the morning, we get here and have a couple of meetings with our player development guy, Dave Szott, or we’re meeting with the training room staff or lifting with Sal Alosi, our strength coach, in the weight room. Most of our meetings are going over tapes, trying to get this offense down as well as we can. So I think, from that aspect, we kind of have a step up on other teams’ rookies. When we get into camp, we’ll be more on par with the veterans. Usually the days go anywhere from 6 or 7 a.m. to 5 or 6 at night. So we’re getting a lot of good work in there. We definitely should be ready for anything they throw at us during training camp.

On whether he works eight to 10 hour days…

Sometimes, it varies from day-to-day. One day we might just go four or five hours and then another one we might go eight or nine (hours). It all depends what day it is and when they start the schedule. At first, it almost seems overwhelming but you get in the routine of things and get used to it. You realize it’s really making you better, so it makes it that much easier to get through the day.

On how confident he is that he will be able to contribute this year…

I feel pretty confident with the offense right now. I’ve been doing a lot of studying to get everything down. I’ve been speaking to my position coach. I’ve been doing a lot of work in the film room with Erik Ainge, the rookie quarterback. I’ve been staying in contact with my position coach and also coach (Eric) Mangini. He calls to check in to make sure everything is going well, so I am feeling comfortable with the offense as far as the ins and outs and everything. As far as expectations for the season, I haven’t set any true expectations for myself. For right now, I want to get the offense down as well as I can, and go out there and give the Jets all that I have every play that I am out there. We will see what happens from there.

On if you feel your blocking has improved…

Without a doubt. I have been working in the weight room and that always helps, but it really doesn’t help unless you transition all that strength onto the field. I think that’s the biggest area that I’ve improved upon - as far as that transition, as far as getting all that bag work on the field and the repetitions. I was here for a pleasant time with all the rookies on the field. We all really helped ourselves out and each other out by doing field work, and all kind of weight room work and working every aspect of things when all the other guys are out relaxing. Our rookie corps feels really good about the fact that we have a leg up on everybody else and the Jets give us the opportunity.

Like I said, I have spent a lot of time with Erik Ainge going over my plays and different stuff like that. We spent a lot of time in the film room together. We spent that last four or five weeks together, studying everyday with each other so I have a real good relationship with him. Another fellow Big Ten guy, Jehuu Caulcrick, he’s a running back for us. He and I spent a lot of time studying and stuff like that. What we do there affects what we do on the field and in the weight room. We all have similar personalities and get along real well. Another guy is Vernon (Gholston). I have been going over a lot of stuff with him. I have a really good relationship with him, especially being a Big Ten guy. It never hurts that he’s a Big Ten guy. I’ve been really thankful that the coaches have put us in the position that they have.

With Keller now inked the Jets have only top pick LB Vernon Gholston still unsigned. Jets sources close to JI have told us that they expect Gholston to be locked up before players report on Wednesday.

The team also announced they have waived CB Jonathan Zenon who was signed earlier this spring as an undrafted rookie free agent.

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