NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — After whiffing on cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, the Jets need second-year pro Kyle Wilson to step up his game.
Let’s just say he had a rough introduction to life in the NFL.
The Jets’ 2010 first-round pick needed to learn the playbook on the fly while getting plenty of playing time early. There were some good moments, but the struggles outweighed them and Wilson’s confidence dropped – along with his time on the field.
“I probably just wasn’t as consistent as I wanted to be, and that was the big thing,” Wilson said Tuesday. “So that’s the emphasis that I have this year, going out and playing to the best of my ability, not having mental errors out there and just perfecting my technique.”
He dedicated the offseason to pushing himself and making sure he never goes through another experience like last year. There’s also the drive to prove those wrong who say the Jets made a mistake taking him 29th out of Boise State.
“That’s the attitude to have, but obviously, I want to play, play consistent, play well and be a factor on the field,” said Wilson, who was in every game last season and started six. “That’s my attitude coming into camp. That’s why I worked so hard this offseason, and that’s really what we’re trying to do day-in and day-out.”
Wilson is a humble and soft-spoken kid from nearby Piscataway, N.J., who talked last summer about being able to live his dream of playing in the NFL. This offseason was all about not just being here, but becoming one of the best at his position. That’s why Wilson traveled with All-Pro teammate Darrelle Revis to Arizona to spend time together working out and talking about how he can get better.
“Through last year, I knew it was rough for him being a rookie,” Revis said. “I’ve been through that stage as a rookie, as well. Veteran guys did it for me when I was younger. I had Laveranues Coles. I had David Barrett and those types of guys, so I’m just returning the favor. I’m just doing the same thing those guys did for me, for Kyle.”
Revis has become a mentor to Wilson, and the two will even have their lockers next to each other this season after being across the room from each other a year ago. Revis has a rigorous training regimen he goes through at Fischer Sports, a highly acclaimed sports academy in Phoenix, and was happy to have a new partner with him this offseason.
“I think I worked on everything with him, just life, being a positive person,” Revis said. “I brought him out to Phoenix with me, so I think that was good for me and him to be around each other a lot and get to know each other really well, just the whole process of him just maturing as a player.”
The Jets hope that hard work carries over to the regular season so Wilson can team with Revis and Antonio Cromartie to potentially form one of the best cornerback trios in the league.
“He has confidence,” Cromartie said. “That’s the biggest thing. Midway through the season last year, he lost a little bit of his confidence, but you can see that it’s there. I think being around Darrelle for the summer, it helped him a whole lot, too, with his technique, having the confidence to go out and press any receiver that he can.”
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine agrees that Wilson had some issues with his confidence, but added that he thought people calling Wilson’s rookie season a bad year is “a little overblown.” After all, he said, Wilson began showing signs of improvement as the season went on – he just wasn’t able to get on the field enough because other players were having solid seasons, such as Drew Coleman.
Now that Coleman is gone after signing with Jacksonville as a free agent, Wilson is again expected to play a major role in the defense.
“I think he handled the lockout very maturely,” Pettine said. “He spent a lot of time with Revis. If you’re going to pick a guy to kind of shadow and get yourself better, that’s not a bad choice. He came in, he’s in great shape, very conscientious about his job, had a lot of questions based on our installation and he’s showing it on the field.
“He’s going to be a huge part of what we do this year.”
Rex Ryan certainly sees it, too, and understands that not every player – especially at that position – can walk right in and be successful in their first season.
“You come into a new thing and you’re learning two different positions, outside corner and nickel in a brand-new system,” Ryan said. “Then, all of a sudden, you’re not quite having the success that you had in college. It kind of snowballs on you. That’s why we kind of gave him a, `Hey, you don’t have to be there yet.’ I think, right now, he’s different. He’s carrying himself differently and I think a lot of that came with the added strength that he has.”
All that time with Revis certainly helped, but Wilson knows the changes in confidence and comfort level needed to start with him.
“Nothing against (Revis) or anything, but it’s really all about me and what I do out there,” Wilson said. “Obviously, I’m trying to learn from guys like him and accept the coaching. It’s just going out with a great attitude, a positive attitude every single day.”
What were your honest thoughts on Wilson last season? Let us know in the comments below…
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