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Jets “Lock Up” Burress for 2011

Number 17 is returning to New York. Not Braylon Edwards as some Jets fans had anticipated, but former Giants Super Bowl hero Plaxico Burress.

On Sunday, the Jets and Burress agreed to a one year deal worth three million in guaranteed money. The Giants and Steelers were among the top suitors for Burress, but the Jets swooped in and locked up (no pun intended) the towering wide out. The man fans and teammates call “Plax” should vastly improve a Jets red zone offense that ranked in the bottom third of the NFL last season.

Burress is considered by many to be a bargain deal for Gang Green, but he does come with his share of baggage. In his tenth year out of Michigan State, Burr
ess was a repeat violator of the NFL’s code of conduct policy for violating team rules, butting heads with former coach Tom Coughlin. Burress is also three years removed from playing at peak performance and questions remain whether he can regain the explosiveness that helped the Giants capture their first Super Bowl title in 17 years.

While other top free agents were raising the bar on their offseason conditioning regime, Burress spent his time behind bars completing the final months of his twenty month jail sentence. Many general managers across the NFL agree that Burress still has several productive years ahead making number 17 among the most highly coveted free agents on the market. With the Jets securing this top gun in their hip pocket (once again no pun intended) New York takes aim at cementing a title contending squad.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan has been an expert with reclamation projects most notably: Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie. Burress and Ryan may be a match made in heaven as the Jets head man has demonstrated he can coexist with any player regardless of how troubled their past. Burress seems to have a new lease on life, regretful of his careless acts and determined to once again ascend to the NFL’s elite.

Hitting the Weights and Hitting the Books

This offseason Jets safety Eric Smith has taken out his frustrations with the NFL’s labor dispute on the weight room. Smith has built up 15 pounds of muscle training at home in Columbus, Ohio as well as at TEST Sports Club in Martinsville, New Jersey.

Aside from his grueling weight training program, Smith has been enjoying the great outdoors, while also spending time back home with his family.

“I’ve been hunting a little bit and fishing,” said Smith. “I spent most of my time at Michigan State. I was back in Columbus working out and spent some time with the family. I got the chance to see my sister play some volleyball.”

Smith not only hit the weights hard and but hit the books even harder, earning his Masters in Criminal Justice from Michigan State. The Jets safety sites his grandma as his source of inspiration for completing his degree.

“A couple years ago, when I started it {Masters Degree} I was thinking I would like to be in the FBI or Secret Service, noted Smith. “Now, it’s more for grandma. I started it my senior year and it was three years ago she said ‘I’d to see you finish that before my tim
e is up.’ I couldn’t say no to that.”

The man fans and teammates refer to as “Smitty” took the extended time in the offseason to fulfill his educational pursuits, but he can’t stay off the gridiron much longer.

“It worked out well this offseason because I had my last two classes and had to finish a 50 page paper,” exclaimed Smith. “I spent a lot of time at Michigan State meeting with the coaches helping out at spring ball, so I’m thinking I’d like to coach down the line. It’s getting to the point where the long break is alright, but now it’s time to get back to work.”

Smith is among the Jets 14 unrestricted free agents, leaving general manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan with some difficult personnel decisions if and when the lockout is lifted.

“I sat down with them {Ryan and Tannenbaum} and they said they would like to have me back,” proclaimed Smith. “They said they don’t really know the dynamics of the salary cap, as far as who they can bring back and who they can’t, so I guess we’ll wait and see.”

Smith expressed his desire to return with the Green and White. Smith’s familiarity with the Jets defensive schemes and great camaraderie with teammates make re-signing with Gang Green a no brainer for #33.

“I would like to be back here,” affirmed Smith. “Especially with this short offseason. I already know the defense, there’s a bunch of great guys, a great staff. We have a great team. But then again it’s a business and it comes down to negations and stuff like that.”

With players and fans growing restless, the NFL labor dispute wages on. The 2011 Hall of Fame game kicks off the NFL’s preseason August 7th, and the league is fast approaching crunch time. Smith amongst many other fellow players hope that a resolution is in sight so they can return to the game they love and provide more heart pounding action for NFL fans across the globe.

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