One player thrived in his time with the Jets last year, finally beginning to live up to expectations, and another struggled in his first year as a starter and became a popular target of disgruntled fans.
Linebacker Aaron Maybin, claimed off waivers in Week 4, registered the first sack of his three-year NFL career in his debut game with the Jets. Maybin, a former first-round pick by Buffalo who underwhelmed during his two seasons with the Bills, thrived in the Jets’ 3-4 defense as a designated pass rusher. All the lanky Maybin had to do was run forward and harass the quarterback, which he did to the surprising tune of six sacks.
The player considered a bust in upstate New York earned a one-year contract with the Jets this offseason.
“Obviously anyone that spoke to me last year knows how much I enjoyed the team that first go round,” Maybin said. “Having the opportunity to really have a whole offseason under my belt, spending time in the weight room and with the coaches, going over the playbook, has been great.”
Maybin spent the offseason bulking up. He estimates his weight is now at 242 pounds, up from 225 pounds at season’s end. It is part of what Maybin hopes will be an expanded role in the Jets’ defense.
“Coming into the offseason, my mindset was, regardless of what happened through free agency or the draft, to make myself the best player possible,” Maybin said. “With the team right now going into this next phase of our preparation, I definitely see this as a big opportunity for myself to come in and definitely establish myself this preseason and during training camp.”
To the left of Maybin’s locker, five spots down, is right tackle Wayne Hunter. At the end of the 2010 season, Hunter filled in for Damien Woody on the right side of the line through the close of the regular season and throughout the playoffs. But last year, in his eighth season in the league and his first as a starter, Hunter struggled.
With the Jets having Vlad Ducasse and Austin Howard on the roster, it would seem that Hunter’s grasp on the starting job -- he did start all 16 games last season -- is now a little less firm. He admitted on Thursday that his play wasn’t up to par last season, even calling himself the team’s “weak-link” on the offensive line.
“As far as my role, I’m the starting right tackle; it’s as simple as it is. Whatever comes opening day, during the season, so be it. But I am the starting right tackle,” Hunter said.
“They’ve told me, I know that. It’s clear – it’s as clear as mud,” Hunter joked.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.