Head coach Rex Ryan ruffled some feathers in August with criticism of wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, saying he wanted to see more from the second-year player who missed the opening days of training camp with a hamstring injury.
Kerley seems to have responded to the criticism from his head coach to the point that he is now the Jets playmaker.
In Monday night’s 23-17 loss to the Texans, Kerley led the Jets with five catches for 94 yards. It was the latest big game from an emerging part of the offense.
“I think everything [Ryan] said was right on time. I should have been out there in training camp, but I don’t think being out hindered me in any way. I still got the mental reps in,” Kerley told Metro. “I hope now that people say I’m kind of serious.”
After making those training camp comments, Ryan did pull his young receiver aside to speak with him. Kerley acknowledged the moment but says, “He did but be didn’t have to. It was kind of something I already knew myself.”
Kerley has registered multiple receptions in all five games this year, something he did just eight times in his rookie season. He’s emerged as a big-play threat, as evidenced by twice hauling in catches of 36 yards on Monday night.
His growth is vital with Santonio Holmes out for the season and tight end Dustin Keller and wide receiver Stephen Hill missing time with hamstring injuries. The chemistry with quarterback Mark Sanchez is developing at just the right time.
“Me and Mark have definitely been working towards getting a better connection and things like that,” Kerley said. “I don’t think tonight was any different. I think, like I said, the opportunities kind of presented itself.”
Gang Green notes
» Linebacker Bryan Thomas left the game in the second half with a hamstring injury. He later returned to the game. He told Metro it was just an aggravation.
» Linebacker Aaron Maybin had an MRI after the game for a jammed middle finger on his right hand. The results showed no break or sprain and Maybin had a light wrapping in the locker room.
» Wide receiver Clyde Gates left the game with a shoulder injury. He told Metro that his shoulder “just popped out,” but the MRI revealed no damage. He said his shoulder was popped back into place, but he left the locker room with his right arm in a sling.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.