There's a chip on the shoulders of Zac Stacy and for good reason, the New York Jets running back has plenty to prove to not only the team that drafted him then traded him but to his new organization as well.
In 2013 during his rookie season, Stacy seemed destined for a big role with the St. Louis Rams, more than justifying his selection as a fifth round pick. Stacy ran for 973 yards in that season along with seven touchdowns, all in just 13 games. It seemed like he was destined for a big year in 2014 but his role decreased with the Rams last year, even as he averaged the same 3.9 yards per carry as his rookie season. The amount of carries, he says, were dictated from "upstairs" and this offseason, he asked for a move out of St. Louis.
The Jets were able to trade a seventh round draft selection for Stacy, adding him to an already deep backfield. There is Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell on the roster as well as Stevan Ridley, who despite being out for all of the offseason as well as training camp is nonetheless a talented running back. So it seemed like Stacy would, in a best case scenario, be a good insurance policy if someone got hurt during training camp. Most outsiders thought he wasn't going to make the team.
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Instead of course for the fact that Stacy is impressive. He uses his lower center of gravity well and has been impressive in preseason so far. And he is also showing good hands out of the backfield, a major plus in this offense.
"The situation is obviously tough, we have so many talented backs. That's a great thing, all this competition. At the end of the day, I'm going to control the things I can control, try to make plays and have an impact and make this team," Stacy told Metro this week.
"Absolutely I have a chip on my shoulder. Definitely something to prove, I think that's the attitude you should have. I know I can play in this league and I think the guys upstairs do as well. But right now, I want to work hard and work well and make this Jets roster, controlling the things I can control. I know I keep reiterating, but showing what I can do and work hard."
In the second quarter of the Jets preseason win, a result that bumped them up to 2-1 during the exhibition slate, Stacy took a screen pass and went 24 yards, hurdling over New York Giants safety Brandon Meriweather with a flip to get into the end zone.
He called it a "great play call." But it might be a great play that gets him onto the 53-man roster.
"It was just more instincts. When you're playing running back, you go back and watch the film and you don't always know the cuts you make because it is all instincts and reactions or whatever. Just making plays," Stacy said.
"It just happened. Just really instincts. I knew the guy was going to low on me. At the end of the day, you're just trying to make a play. I'm just happy to make it in the end zone. It happened quick, I didn't see the defender till late. Just wanted to make it in and get us a touchdown."