One day after signing safety LaRon Landry to a one-year, $4 million contract, New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said the team is confident they will be able to overcome the "challenge" of getting Landry ready for Week 1.
Once regarded as an emerging defensive star with the Washington Redskins, Landry missed 15 games the past two seasons because of an injured Achilles tendon. Still not 100 percent, he will be limited throughout the offseason.
It's a risky signing, but Tannenbaum felt it was worth the gamble because Landry is a "dynamic" player.
"This is a challenge for us, but we feel really good about LaRon, we feel really good about our medical department and we're going to work as a partnership to get him ready for opening day," Tannenbaum said on a conference call Tuesday. "Barring something unforeseen, we think he'll be ready to go."
Landry expressed confidence he'll be fine for the Jets, claiming that when he's healthy, "The sky's the limit for me. Unstoppable."
The former first-round pick will be a limited participant in organized team activities and minicamps. Landry said he's working out and running sprints, but he will follow the rehab plan the Jets' doctors have designed for him.
"I'll be ready when it's time to be ready," he said.
Landry's injury issues with the Redskins became a story after he decided against team-recommended surgery. The problems started in 2010, and it flared up again midway through the 2011 season.
"It wasn't really an Achilles issue last year, and then the reason why I opted out of surgery this past season was because it wasn't an Achilles issue," said Landry, calling it more of a "bone-type issue" below the Achilles tendon.
After the season, Landry underwent stem-cell treatment. He said the Jets know the full extent of his injury and the various alternative-medicine procedures he used in lieu of surgery. The injury, he acknowledged, is the reason why he signed a one-year contract.
"It's more me challenging myself," he said. "I wanted a one-year deal to prove to everybody, and show them the injury is healed and that I can play to the best of my ability."
If healthy, Landry should help the Jets' run defense, and he provides another option in coach Rex Ryan's blitz packages. He's regarded as more of a strong safety than a free safety, but he expects to play both in Ryan's scheme.
"I can be the middle of the field or down in the box," said Landry, who also visited with the New England Patriots before picking the Jets. "My main thing is, I like to be in the mix. With this defense, I can do both. They can use me to my strength and I can fly around and just play ball."
Tannenbaum said Landry has the ability to play man-to-man coverage against tight ends, but he also didn't rule out the possibility of adding a starting-caliber free safety, someone to complement Landry's skill set.
Tannenbaum said they "haven't shut the door" on Jim Leonhard, a free agent who is rehabbing his surgically repaired knee.