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For Wilkerson, the Fight Starts Now

Posted May 28, 2014

Jets DE Takes to the Boxing Ring to Improve His ‘Hand-to-Hand Combat’

It's still early, only day two of OTAs. "It's not football yet," head coach Rex Ryan said after this morning's practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. "But it's closer than what we've had."

That means no pads, no hitting, taking care of each other no matter which side of the ball a player calls home. And one more thing.

"The main thing I challenged our team on this time is about self-improvement," Rex said. "And it's also about making your teammates better."

Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson didn't need to be told. That's his belief, too.

"I just feel that myself and my peers should want to do better than the last game or the previous year," Wilkerson said. "Nobody's perfect, but just try to do everything right and more, not just do everything right and that's it. Just try to do a little bit more to get where we've got to be, to get to where I've got to be."

One thing Wilkerson's doing slightly different this offseason to get him ready to attack the season is that he's taken up the manly sport of self defense, the art of the squared circle.

Mo has put on the boxing gloves.

"This is my first time doing it. I've been boxing just a little bit, not really much to talk about," he said with a smile about his sessions at a gym in Hoboken, NJ. "I go every now and then when I can."

And why does he feel the need to box? He has specific reasons.

"I'm doing it just for endurance and I'm working on my hands," he said. "I want to work on my hand speed and hand-to-hand combat, something I'm doing in the trenches all the time."

Wilkerson's hand-fighting became a bigger part of his game last season and it showed as he posted career highs with 10.5 sacks, 91 tackles and six penalties caused on opposing offenses. Here are some statistics from his first three seasons with the Jets:

SOME KEY WILK-ONOMIC INDICATORS
Season   Tackles    Sacks Plus TFLs Pens Caused
2011 53 11.0 1-14
2012 90 10.5 5-44
2013 91 17.5  6-55
Totals 234 39.0  12-113

The future's bright, but Muhammad isn't wearing shades and he doesn't want his defensive mates and his offensive associates to wear them, either.

"Can this season be something special? It can be," he said. "The whole team's got to buy in. Everybody's got to be willing to sacrifice, to do different things to be great."

Those things are under way even though it's day two of Jets OTAs.

Practice Notes

Some medical situations have shifted things around for this portion of the offseason. Ryan said G Willie Colon suffered a knee injury while working out recently and will require an arthroscopic procedure "that's going to keep him out of some action for a while." Second-year player Oday Aboushi moved inside from T to G and Rex said, "He's actually looked pretty good these last two days." ... Also sidelined as previously reported are RB Chris Johnson (knee), RB Daryl Richardson (toe).

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