If the success of a football player is measured in the inches of his biceps or how many times he can flip a giant tire, then newly signed Jets safety LaRon Landry might as well schedule a session with a sculptor for his bust in Canton.
Unfortunately for Landry, whom the Jets introduced to the New York media on Tuesday afternoon via conference call, play on the field is what he will be judged on. The former Redskins safety, who was the No. 6 player selected in the 2007 NFL Draft, has been limited to just 17 games over the past two seasons. An Achilles injury first popped up in 2010, cutting into his season and then derailing him the next year as well.
He opted out of surgery which he says could have cost him the first six games of the season.
“Unfortunately midway through [last] season the injury moved kind of further down towards the bone type issues,” Landry said. “It wasn’t really an Achilles issue last year. The reason why I opted out of surgery is that it wasn’t really an Achilles injury.”
It’s clear from both Landry and Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum that the player isn’t quite ready to take to the field yet. While he said his attendance at offseason team activities (OTAs) and mini-camp is not an issue, Landry did dodge questions about how much he will be ready to participate saying he will be active “as much as possible.”
Tannenbaum wasn’t worried that his new signing might not fully participate in OTAs or mini-camp. He said the goal is to get him on the field for the season opener.
“We feel really good about LaRon, we feel really good about our medical department and we’re going to work as a partnership to get him ready for opening day,” Tannenbaum said. “Barring anything unforeseen we think he’ll be ready to go.”
The one-year deal helps fill needs in the secondary where Eric Smith was the only returning safety. Landry, who at the 2007 NFL Combine clocked a 4.35 time in the 40, is known as a run stopper and brings versatility to the position. He also brings a “gym rat” mentality to the team as he made waves last month when a photo of him appeared on Twitter showing clear muscle and size gains.
Rumors that the image was photoshopped or that Landry was on steroids began to circulate, but neither the player’s history with injuries or the recent whispers about his strength gains scared the Jets away from their biggest prize of free agency. In turn, Landry fell in love with his new team, making the decision a simple one.
“It was multiple things. First of all, a great organization, well-rounded. A player-driven organization, all for the players and basically winning ball games. And that’s what it’s all about, winning ball games, going to the playoffs and getting a ring,” Landry said.
“It’s a player-driven organization so it’s kind of like a no-brainer.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.