FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Darron Lee was hit hard by Bart Scott — and brushed it all off.
The New York Jets linebacker was recently criticized by the former NFL star and current radio co-host for what Scott thinks is an apparent lack of toughness on the football field.
Scott, during a segment on WFAN’s “Carlin, Maggie & Bart” show on Aug. 17, said Lee turns down contact at times during games and hasn’t made any impact plays since being drafted by the Jets in the first round out of Ohio State in 2016.
“This guy, I don’t want to call him soft, but he’s a little plush,” Scott said. “I don’t understand how they keep allowing him to get away with this because I saw this last year. And I’m saying, ‘Maybe he’s young and maybe he needs to put a little bit of muscle on.’ But when you’re turning (contact) down in an era when you don’t even have any real fullbacks? Man, if I was in that locker room, I would have to tell him, ‘Look, bro, you either drop your marbles, or you need to take your bag and go.'”
Lee, entering his third NFL season, said he was not aware of Scott’s comments until he was asked about them after practice Monday.
“I like Bart,” Lee said. “He’s a great guy. That’s all I’ve got to say. Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion.”
Lee knows Scott personally, and the two have spoken in the past.
“He has my number,” Lee said. “I don’t really have a problem with it. It’s his opinion. … It comes with the territory, man. You can’t expect to get a pat on the back all the time. And if you are, that’s a bad look, a bad sign anyway.”
At 6-foot-1 and 232 pounds, Lee is considered by some to be undersized for the middle linebacker position — a spot Scott played for 11 seasons during stints with Baltimore and New York. Scott was known for making a ton of tackles and for being a vocal presence on the field and in the locker room.
Lee has finished second on the Jets in overall tackles in each of his first two seasons, and has four sacks and no interceptions. More than anything, though, Scott questioned Lee’s desire to be the playmaker the Jets need him to become.
Scott also pointed out one particular play in the Jets’ 15-13 preseason loss at Washington on Aug. 16 when Samaje Perine ripped off a 30-yard run.
“The big run is right at him, and you know what he did?” Scott said of Lee. “He jumped outside because he didn’t want to stand on the train tracks when the train was coming through. … They have to make a decision because this is Year 3. And usually by Year 3 of playing this much football, you are who you are. … It’s one thing to not be able to execute. It’s another thing for me to have to question your heart. That’s where we’re at with Darron Lee right now.”
Scott suggested Lee be moved to safety, but that doesn’t appear to be in any of coach Todd Bowles’ plans. Lee is expected to start at middle linebacker next to Avery Williamson.
“There are high expectations, and I know he wants me to reach those,” Lee said of Scott. “I would want that. If I was an older guy and if I saw somebody that wasn’t putting in, I would probably have my own opinion about it also. He has his own opinion about it. I’m pretty sure if there was something else he would want to say, he has my number.”
Lee also didn’t think Scott’s opinions would serve as any extra motivation for him this season.
“I always have a chip on my shoulder,” Lee said. “I have my own expectations. It doesn’t matter what anybody says, what any media member says. It’s not going to top my own expectations.”
Does Lee think he’ll text Scott and ask him why he made those comments?
“No,” Lee said, shaking his head. “I’ve got bigger fish to fry. I can’t be worried about that.”
NOTES: WR/KR Lucky Whitehead, waived-injured on Sunday, went unclaimed and reverted to the Jets’ injured reserve list. … Bowles wouldn’t rule out some starters playing in the preseason finale at Philadelphia on Thursday night.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)