After years of Pop Warner, fighting for a spot on the high school varsity, being recruited to a college team and enduring the longest NFL draft in modern history, a crop of rookies arrived at team minicamps across the country.
For many of them, it’ll be their last shot at a professional career.
“Every rep matters,” said TE Michael Owen, one of the Jets hopefuls who will complete the rookie minicamp Sunday and stood out for his receiving skills.
A few roster players were on hand to take part in the drills. Their job was to provide a little stability when it came to plays, but those players know they aren’t too far removed from the rookies they are helping.
“Pretty much you’re in the same boat as them,” Jets second-year defensive lineman Ty Steinkuhler said. “I’m still fighting for a job just like them. You have one year under your belt so you help these guys out more.”
The Jets set up extra lockers in the middle of the locker room, and a lot of the rookies had to share. Steinkuhler could relate to the nerves that some of the rookies admitted to.
“You could easily be let go after this weekend,” Steinkuhler said. “Usually you’re so nervous you don’t want to screw up. All these guys know how to play football, it’s just a matter of not getting too nervous.”
Yesterday, when fourth-round running back Joe McKnight took a knee in the morning practice while feeling awful, running back Mickey Dean took a knee next to him in a moment of solidarity.
“It was to support him because he’s my teammate,” Dean said.
Dean, a sturdy runner out of Arkansas Pine-Bluff, had a few solid carries himself. He looked down at the Jets playbook in his locker with his name written on the front.
“I want to keep my name on it,” Dean said.