Jets’ Ellis, year removed from prison, focused on improving on field

Kenrick Ellis is a year removed from prison and now focused on improving his on-field performance. Credit: Getty Images
Kenrick Ellis is a year removed from prison and now focused on improving his on-field performance.
Credit: Getty Images

This time a year ago, Jets nose tackle Kenrick Ellis was getting ready for the biggest challenge of his life. It wasn’t going against a veteran NFL offensive lineman or even a grueling training camp session.

Instead, Ellis was headed to Virginia to serve a 45-day prison sentence for a felony charge stemming from an incident which happened when he was in college. Ellis was able to squeeze in the prison term last year between minicamp and Jets training camp in late August. He served his time, something he says helped him grow mentally as a person and as a football player, and now he is back and fully focused on the task of becoming a contributor with the Jets.

But the prospect of being behind bars and the thought of spending time at the Virginia prison haunted Ellis last summer even before he went into the lock-up. It was something that affected him mentally and kept him from playing his best football last offseason.

“Just the fact that you have to go in a box for 40 days, that’s always in the back of my head last offseason. It’s always there, even if you’re on the field,” Ellis said. “I don’t wish it on anyone and I don’t want to be in it again. Just knowing the fact that I will be sitting in a box with killers and society’s outcasts, yeah, you’re always thinking about that. I’m glad it is over. I am glad to focus on other things.”

Now, Ellis is playing free and clear.

He admits to being uptight on the field a year ago, something that continued to stick with him even after he served his time. As the Jets finish organized team activities (OTAs) this week and head into minicamp next week, Ellis can reflect on how different his life is than this time a year ago. Now he can play reckless and free, a year removed from spending his time behind bars.

For starters, he can focus on the football field rather than “being in a box.”

“It was tough on him last year; it was in the back of his mind,” second-year nose tackle Damon Harrison said. “When I first came in, I didn’t really know him. He just seemed really quiet and really reserved. But as I got to know him, I could see it weighed on him. Seeing him between last year and this year, you see him having fun now and playing loose.”

Following minicamp last year, Harrison remembers talking with Ellis following the final practice. Ellis turned to him and opened up about having to go to prison in a few days. It was a frank and open conversation about his emotions.

“He was realizing that after this was over, he’d have to go to jail,” Harrison said. “Now for him, it is all football.”

This is a big year for Ellis, who is entering his third year in the league. Ellis has not had the impact expected of a player taken in the third round, playing in 17 games the past two seasons and making just 25 tackles. His meal ticket as an interior lineman in the Jets’ 3-4 defense will be as a run stopper.

In OTAs, he has shown good mobility and lateral movement, the result of an offseason where he focused on refining his footwork. It looks as if Ellis is primed to take a step forward in his development.

“I can just relax and play, [and] mentally focus on my assignment. I can focus on what I need to do; what I need to do physically,” Ellis said. “Being in the best place I can be on and off the field.”

Jets notes …

» The Jets were without wide receivers Stephen Hill (knee), Jeremy Kerley (heel) and Clyde Gates (hamstring) on Wednesday. Holding Kerley out was a precaution from head coach Rex Ryan and he anticipates having Hill and Gates back for minicamp next week.

» Also missing among the wide receivers was Santonio Holmes, who continues to rehab from last year’s season-ending foot injury in Week 3. Ryan said Holmes could start training camp on the physically unable to perform list.

» A decision on the Jets’ starting quarterback isn’t forthcoming anytime soon, per Ryan. Neither Mark Sanchez nor Geno Smith has distanced themselves enough to claim the starting spot.

“I don’t believe that’s the case. I don’t believe we’re close to that right now,” Ryan said. “The process, you don’t have to make that move. Until we feel 100 percent comfortable with that decision we’ll leave it to competition.”

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.