FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Don't look now but Tommy Bohanon is making an impact for the New York Jets.
Not much is thought of Bohanon these days. He is, after all, a draft pick selection of former general manager John Idzik, who is despised around these parts. Then there's the fact that he was a teammate of Idzik's son at Wake Forest, further burying him in the eyes of public perception.
A season-ending injury last year and that he is a fullback, a role that is a bit under-appreciated (and is perhaps a dying position) means that Bohanon is an afterthought when evaluating the Jets roster.
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That is until this training camp.
He is one of the surprise names of camp, putting in some very solid performances during these first sessions of training camp. There is also a new offensive coordinator in Chan Gailey whose offense will utilize Bohanon's skillset, letting him be more of a receiver this year than just the obligatory blocking role. It is a fresh slate for a player who shies away from attention, who just wants to come to work and contribute to the team.
“I get to split out, be in the backfield and still be the lead blocker. I still can go out and run routes and do those sort of things. There's more I can do than in the previous year,” Bohanon told Metro.
“I like being able to go out and do those type of things. I did that in college. I like being able to go out and show that do, do that. It's good.”
During the offseason, he focused more on agility and running rather than just weightlifting. The workouts included more route running and sprinting then in the past plus he emphasized cutting and agility work more as well. Bohanon has always been thick in terms of his build but now with a new offense asking him to be more multiple, he's had to adjust his offseason workouts to accommodate this new workload.
In response to Gailey's requirements for a fullback, he's gotten leaner. Last year around training camp time, Bohanon was around 14 to 15 percent body fat. Now he's nearly the same weight but his body fat is around 10 percent now.
The result, the soft spoken Bohanon says, is that he can better fit into this system.
“I'm more explosive so I'm able to finish my blocks better. I'm able to get out there and run routes better. Just overall more explosive,” Bohanon said.
On Tuesday after a day off, Bohanon was quick out of the backfield. His blocking was solid but he got out into the open twice in 11-on-11 sessions to be a reliable outlet when quarterback Geno Smith was under pressure. The result was two first downs.
There's plenty of talk that the Jets might not carry a fullback – plenty of teams don't these days – but the Jets fullback doesn't think that the position is ready to be put six-feet under. Not yet.
“I think there's been a resurgence in the position the last few years. The Patriots used a fullback in the Super Bowl; the Seahawks did as well and they were in that game,” Bohanon said. “We've always used one here and I've been used in a lot of different ways. It's a different role this year, a bigger year.”
There is already a sign that he has progressed and is solid on the depth chart: J.C. Copeland, brought in during the offseason as competition at the position, was cut last week.