Upon arriving at the team’s facility last week after signing a free agent deal with the Jets, former Chargers defensive lineman Antonio Garay was greeted by cornerback Antonio Cromartie. The two were teammates in San Diego and Garay was still feeling his way around the team’s headquarters. Cromartie approached Garay and greeted him in jest with “What’s up fat ass?”
Welcome to team, veteran.
But for a Jets defensive line that is thin with depth and experience, they sure are happy to have Colon’s beefy backside, despite a history of injuries that have riddled his career. Entering his eighth year in the league, Garay has played a full 16 games just twice and he was limited to eight games last year with a variety of injuries.
“I’m feeling good right now. I’ve been over here the last few days working out, training. Things are going extremely well,” Garay said on a conference call with beat reporters on Tuesday. “I’m just working on the future, getting ready to gear up, playing to the best of my ability and competing for a starting job over here. It’s on the table for everybody and I think it’s great. I’m like a young bull getting ready to go back into the ring.”
When he’s healthy, Garay can be a solid player as seen in 2010 and 2011 when he had a combined 105 tackles and eight sacks. With the loss of Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito this offseason, the New Jersey native will be expected to make an impact immediately.
“My role is to go out there and compete. They said that they want everyone to come out here [and] compete for positions. I’m excited for the opportunity to compete,” Garay said. “I know I’m going to push myself to the limits and I plan on pushing everybody that’s in that defensive line room. The best guys will start.”
The Jets will be hoping that guard Willie Colon as well can stay healthy and contribute. Colon was limited to 12 games last year with the Steelers due to his own injuries, and last played a full regular season in 2009. Despite his struggles to get on the field and stay healthy, he has earned a solid reputation despite an evolving door along the offensive line in Pittsburgh.
Colon turns 30 years old next month and the native of the Bronx, who played his college football at Hofstra, is hopeful he can rejuvenate his career in New York.
“I’m going to ride it until the wheels come off, honestly. I feel like I have a lot left in the tank. I have a lot of fight in me. I’m a self-motivated guy,” Colon said. “Money or other things don’t motivate me, but the pure competition of football [motivates me]. I just want to be the best at whatever position I’m at and I just want to be a leader, somebody that just has a strong will to compete and win. That’s what I want to bring to the table.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.