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Undrafted Adams Aiming to Answer Jets' Free Safety Question

Second-year pro shows potential during Practice No. 2

The New York Jets created a question at starting free safety by letting Lamarcus Joyner walk in free agency, but they may have had the answer on their roster all along.

First, Gang Green traded for Baltimore Ravens' veteran Chuck Clark in March. The seasoned Clark appeared alongside starting strong safety Jordan Whitehead during OTAs before suffering a season-ending ACL tear in early June.The Jets responded by signing eight-year starter Adrian Amos, who was still available on the free-agent market three months into the new league year, with the idea that the former Green Bay Packer could compete to fill the void.

Obviously, neither Clark nor Amos started the Jets' 2022 regular season finale. That was Tony Adams.

Set for his second season in Green & White, Adams appears as a serious contender to earn the snaps that belonged to Joyner in 2022.By multiple accounts, Adams was moving well during Friday's training camp practice in Florham Park."He's doing a good job. He's in a good competition at that safety spot. He wants that starting job just like the other three do," said Saleh following the non-padded practice. "He's showing up good, but, again, he's running around in pajamas."The 24-year-old Adams made a notable play in pass coverage against the Aaron Rodgers-led offense. The cameras caught the free safety breaking up a deep ball intended for speedy receiver Mecole Hardman. Earlier in practice, Adams was in on the coverage during a long incompletion targeting Allen Lazard.

After making the 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie last year, Adams proceeded to appear in 11 games while starting out as a special teamer. The Illinois product was active for the last six weeks of the 2022 regular season, totaling 116 snaps on defense over that span.Adams made his first NFL start in place of Joyner during the Week 18 visit to Miami, recording six stops against the Dolphins. Although he wasn't a starter, Adams was on field for 60 defensive plays one week earlier in Seattle.The 5-foot-11 defensive back was a five-year contributor in college, successfully transitioning from cornerback to safety during his tenure with the Illini.

Jets' FS Candidates

Adrian Amos, Tony Adams, Ashtyn Davis, Jarrick Bernard-Converse (Rookie), Trey Dean (Rookie), Marquis Waters (Rookie)

 >>  https://www.si.com/nfl/jets/news/undrafted-adams-aiming-to-answer-jets-free-safety-question

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Safety Jordan Whitehead Has Whole Herd of GOATs to Get Him Ready for the Season

Darrelle Revis' Cousin Takes All He Can from His Seasons with Tom Brady in Tampa, Aaron Rodgers Now with Jets

Jul 27, 2023  - Randy Lange

Every day at Jets camp, someone is talking up Aaron Rodgers from close personal experience. Either from a practice or a game, from in the locker room or in the meeting rooms, everyone's got a Rodgers tale or two to tell.But not many can assemble the storybook that safety Jordan Whitehead is still putting together. Because two years before this offseason and training camp working with and against Rodgers, Whitehead was a Buccaneers starter beginning his second season of lining up against Tom Brady.

"When I used to be in Tampa with Tom, every day waking up, it was just an honor to play with him," Whitehead said after Thursday's practice. "My cousin, Darrelle Revis, had a Super Bowl with Tom, too. So little things like that just keep me going, realize what I'm doing and how grateful I am for this."

Oh, yeah, we forgot to mention his Revis connection. And of course, No. 24 will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on April 5, two days after perhaps Whitehead and some other Jets starters and lots of twos and threes play against the Browns in the Hall of Fame Game on Thursday night in Canton.Anyway, getting back to current events, Whitehead sees a lot of Brady in what Rodgers has been showing his teammates all offseason and into training camp.

"Aaron comes up to us and talks about what we should've done, he jokes with us that he knows the coverages we're in," he said. "But it's getting us ready for the season. He's making us smarter, and we're trying to help him out and get him better, too."

While Brady was starting anew with the Bucs and Rodgers was winding up with the Pack, the Jets' safety position was going through a few transitions. In 2021, Robert Saleh's first season as a head coach and Jeff Ulbrich's first as a D-coordinator, the position was going to be manned by Marcus Maye and Lamarcus Joyner. Joyner lasted less than a half in the opener and Maye less than half the season before injuries struck. Ashtyn Davis, Elijah Riley and Will Parks all stepped up.Last year, Whitehead came aboard as an unrestricted free agent and teamed with Joyner for most of the season, aided by Parks and by undrafted rookie free agent Tony Adams' late emergence. And he had a decent campaign, becoming the first player in franchise history to start 17 games in a season (no other Jet had more than 16 starts the past two seasons when 17-game schedules were in effect), coming in third on the team and tops in the secondary with 89 tackles, and unofficially posting eight tackles for loss/no gain, eight passes defensed and two INTs.But he knows his first season in green and white could have been better.

"I'm always hard on myself. Anytime I have a bad play or I'm not doing my job on that play, I point the finger at me," he said. "I definitely believe I could've done a better job. A PBU to some people, they think good play, I think bad play. Missed tackle, bad play. Going on year six, it's just about moving forward and getting more chemistry with these guys."Whitehead began OTAs first alongside Chuck Clark, then, after Clark's June season-ending injury, next to Adrian Amos. Davis returns, as does Adams. Saleh mentioned those last three as being in competition for the other safety starter's role, and the HC mentioned about Adams, "I guess the cat is coming out of the bag a little bit."

Meanwhile, the energetic Adams has high praise for Whitehead.

"He's like my big brother," Adams said. "J-White, Smash [Ashtyn Davis], LJ [Joyner] from last year, M, which is Marquand [Manuel, safeties coach] — I'm always leaning on those guys, being a sponge, because they've played at the highest level, so why not learn from them?"

Whitehead appreciates Adams' appreciation, but he's also glad to have the up-and-comer around for his own reasons."There's probably a guy every year in a position like Tony," he said. "He takes coaching great, he's a great listener, a great leader. He wants to get better every day. He actually made me realize that going on year five last year, when a guy's hungry and wants to make the team and fight for a starting position, it gets you back to the little things when you first came into the league. I appreciate that."

Whether your nickname is ARod or Island or the GOAT or even if it's a still unfamiliar-sounding TA, Whitehead will take inspiration wherever he will find it to help make himself, his defense and his team as good as he can.

  >>   https://www.newyorkjets.com/news/safety-jordan-whitehead-has-whole-herd-of-goats-to-get-him-ready-for-the-season

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By Jared Schwartz - July 29, 2023

Veterans are supposed to teach and lead the younger players, not the other way around.But Jets safety Tony Adams is unlike most young players.

After signing with the Jets as an undrafted free agent last year, Adams’ energy and fearlessness on the field helped him carve out a pretty significant role by the end of his rookie season, despite others at the position having a higher stature.Now, entering his second season, the 24-year-old is competing for the starting role at free safety.Beyond competing, he’s influencing some of the Jets’ most experienced players.

“Every day, there’s things that you guys don’t see,” said Jordan Whitehead, who is entering his sixth NFL season, is expected to start at strong safety and watches Adams up-close every day. “It’s little things that brought Tony to where he is today. He takes to coaching, he’s a great listener, he’s a great leader, he wants to be better every day, and you can see it.

“He actually made me realize, in Year 5 last year, you kind of just get lost. … But when a guy’s hungry, and he wants to make the team and fight for a starting position, it gets you back to the little things you did when you first got back to the league. Him practicing as hard as he does every day, it got my mindset on that same level, so I appreciate it.”

Adams, who played five seasons at Illinois, started one game last year and appeared in 11, totaling 118 defensive snaps despite beginning the season having to fight his way onto the roster.He mostly played special teams until the last few weeks of the season, when he saw more time at safety and recorded 17 total tackles as well as one quarterback pressure.His first NFL start came in Week 18, and 104 of his 118 defensive snaps, as well as 12 of his 17 tackles, occurred across the last two weeks.The Jets traded for former Ravens safety Chuck Clark in March and expected him to start alongside Whitehead, but he tore his ACL during organized team activities and will miss the entire season.They subsequently signed former Bears and Packers safety Adrian Amos, who along with Ashtyn Davis, will provide Adams’ greatest competition for a starting role or significant playing time.

“I have grown a lot this year, but I keep that same undrafted free agent mindset,” Adams said. “I think every year you need to set goals and embark on that journey. I think of it as climbing a mountain and every year you want to keep climbing.“And my coaches never let me settle for anything other than the standard, and the standard is excellence.”Adams’ teammates and coaches rave about his demeanor.He has largely worked with the second unit in practice and rotated in with the starters, and they point to his constant trash-talk and the dialogue he engages in, as well as a constant obsession to go as hard as he possibly can, no matter the drill.Head coach Robert Saleh did not expect Adams to make the team at the start of training camp last year, but said he made it “impossible for us to cut him” and is seeing the same thing unfold this year.

“His mental makeup [has most impressed him],” Saleh said. “He checks all the boxes. Physically, he’s got red-line-to-red-line speed, he’s physical in the box, he’s got great instincts in the run game, he’s got great feel for the pass game, he checks all that stuff.

“But there’s a lot of people in this league that check those boxes, but there’s only a few that check his mental makeup. Everything about him, he’s excited about everything.”

Adams intercepted Aaron Rodgers during practice on Wednesday, though it came on a free play as a result of a defensive penalty.Rodgers took notice and sought out Adams on the sideline to praise him for the play.Commanding attention like that as an undrafted free agent is often difficult. Not for Adams.

“It’s so simple, it’s just doing your job every play,” Adams said. “It’s focusing on your details, where you’re supposed to be, when you’re supposed to be there, it’s just listening to your coaches and just locking in on the details.“I think we overcomplicate this simple game we’ve been playing since we were a kid. All I’ve done to get this far is listen to my coaches and keep being a dog, keep being that person, that little kid I was growing up. That got me this far.”

 >>   https://nypost.com/2023/07/29/tony-adams-replicating-what-made-it-impossible-for-jets-to-cut-him-last-year/

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  • 2 weeks later...
By  Ryan Dunleavy - August 8, 2023 

For all the steady praise aimed at safety Tony Adams during training camp, nothing speaks to his elevated place with the Jets quite like his role in the preseason opener.

Adams played zero snaps.

In other words, just like almost every other projected starter, Adams was deemed too valuable to be left susceptible to injury against the Browns.“I’ve kind of gotten to the point where I’m playing a lot better now,” Adams said, “so my coaches, I guess, didn’t think I needed to play. That’s a compliment to how I’ve been playing, how I’ve been feeding off my teammates and how I’m understanding the defense. It’s all a blessing.”

What a difference one year makes. Adams fought his way onto the roster as an undrafted rookie last year in part because he impressed the coaches during 91 defensive and 26 special-teams snaps in the preseason.

“Pressure is only for those who aren’t prepared,” Adams said, reciting advice he is given by Jets safeties coach Marquand Manuel. “I’m always working on what I need to work on. It’s no pressure. I don’t feel like that kind of stuff. When I go out there, I feel free.”

Heading into the offseason, Adams seemed an unlikely candidate to replace the departed Lamarcus Joyner as a starter — just making the team again seemed like a reasonable goal.But trade acquisition Chuck Clark is sidelined by a torn ACL and career 122-game starter Adrian Amos has not been able to wrestle away the job.

The Jets have arguably the NFL’s best cornerback trio — Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed and Michael Carter II — and safety Jordan Whitehead entrenched in the secondary.“I think this defense is really good,” Adams said. “I think we can compete against anybody. We’re not scared of anybody.”

That doesn’t mean a lack of respect, however.

 >>   https://nypost.com/2023/08/08/tony-adams-status-in-jets-first-preseason-game-shows-how-far-hes-come/

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