CORTLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Jace Amaro trudged his way from the field after a particularly rough practice and was met along the way by John Idzik.
The New York Jets general manager gave the rookie tight end what amounted to a brief pep talk and then patted him on the back.
“John was just telling me what he sees in me and what he believes I can do, and he’s right,” Amaro said Wednesday. “I’ve just got to go out there and play.”
The Jets are counting on that from the second-round draft pick who was perhaps the best receiving tight end in college last season. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Amaro had 106 catches and seven touchdowns in Kliff Kingsbury’s spread offense at Texas Tech, where he often lined up as a slot receiver.
But he hasn’t made an immediate impact just yet — although it’s still early in training camp. It’s a new style of offense, which takes some getting used to. Amaro also missed a little bit of time with tendinitis in his right knee, but was back on the field Wednesday. The knee is fine now, he said, but it’s the on-field mistakes that are hurting.
“A lot of people have a lot of expectations for me,” he said, “And, right now, I’m just trying to figure it all out.”
First off, he needs to better familiarize himself with the offensive concepts and language of plays in the pros, which has been a difficult transition.
“It’s like (going from) speaking Chinese to English,” Amaro said. “It’s like numbers to crazy lingo from Texas Tech to here. It took me a while, and I’m still figuring it out. I feel like I’m getting there, but eventually it’s going to start clicking.
“And, when it does, I feel like I’ll really be able to showcase what I can really do.”
On Wednesday, Amaro dropped a pass and ran a few bad routes. Quarterback Geno Smith got on him for one mistake, and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg barked at Amaro at one point to “get in the (play) book.”
He slipped on another play, leading to an interception for Michael Vick.
“We know he’s got the physical skills to do it,” coach Rex Ryan said. “He’s got to focus, and sometimes if your head’s in other places and you’re thinking and all of that, it’s hard to be at your best.”
The Jets envision Amaro teaming with starter Jeff Cumberland and perhaps Zach Sudfeld to form perhaps one of the league’s most athletic trios of pass-catching tight ends. Amaro flashes during his best moments, often getting himself free in one-on-one coverage.
“Hopefully he can be more consistent and be the receiver that we think he can be,” Ryan said.
Despite the mistakes, Amaro didn’t think his day was all that bad. He acknowledged that he could have done better on some plays, but thought the coaches would also see a few positives.
“I made mistakes and stuff like that, but we’re doing a lot more stuff than we did in the OTAs and minicamp and it’s just figuring it all out,” he said. “I missed practice yesterday and was a little behind today and kind of overthought some stuff, got some plays wrong and I’m not doing the little things right. But so far, I felt like I’ve done a really good job on beating 1-on-1 and running really good routes and I feel like I’ve been open.”
Amaro routinely runs extra routes against linebacker Demario Davis and safety Antonio Allen after practice, trying to sharpen that aspect of his game.
“I have big expectations for myself,” he said. “I know what I can do. I’m making a lot of things a lot more difficult than they really should be. Just because I’m not completely comfortable yet with this entire organization just from the playbook to knowing how the coaches coach and just the little things.
“It took me a little bit to get Kingsbury’s offense down and once I did, I felt like I really took off.”
After just 25 catches for 409 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore with the Red Raiders, Amaro set the NCAA Division I records for tight ends with 1,352 yards receiving and 104.0 yards per game.
“I wasn’t an All-American my freshman year,” Amaro said. “It takes some time. I feel like I’m on a different level and I feel like I’m more advanced than I was coming into college, and that’s a plus. I feel like it’s going to come a lot quicker than a lot later. I’m not really worried about it.”
NOTES: CB Ras-I Dowling (foot) returned to practice, but S Calvin Pryor (concussion) remained sidelined as he goes through the NFL’s protocol on head injuries. … S Brandon Hardin (foot) sat out practice, and CB Johnny Patrick left early after injuring a hamstring. WR David Nelson (groin), RBs Bilal Powell (hamstring) Alex Green (chest) and DE Zach Thompson (shoulder) all missed practice.
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