Williams & Mauldin Are Birds of a Feather

Posted May 8, 2015

Jets' 1st- and 3rd-Round Picks Are Roommates, Like to Get After the QB, and Like to Be Creative

Leonard Williams is one of the biggest players in size at the Jets' rookie minicamp that began today, and having arrived as the sixth pick of last week's draft, he's one of the biggest stories at the camp.

Yet even the "Big Cat" admitted to being a cat on a hot tin roof the previous few days as a Central Floridian and Southern Californian newly transplanted in North Jersey.

"Definitely when I reported and all day yesterday, I felt the tension," Williams told reporters in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room today before heading out for this afternoon's first pro practice with some 44 other camp members.

"But today, after learning the playbook a little bit and being out there and getting more adjusted to the system, I felt a lot more comfortable. And I'm just looking forward to alter on in practice. We're going to be able to run around a lot more and put hands on people and stuff like that."

Williams said head coach Todd Bowles already has tried to drain off some of that group tension with remarks to his rookies at the Thursday night team meeting.

"He was saying, 'Everybody, loosen up.' He said he could feel the tension in the room," the USC defensive end said. "He said football's football at the end of the day and we wouldn't be here if we didn't know how to play. So he said to come in, be loose and just play the game of football."

Creative Juices

It was a natural pairing. Williams' new roommate for this camp is Lorenzo Mauldin, the third-round linebacker out of Louisville.

"I've known Leonard from the Senior Bowl and everything," Mauldin said. "So we got real acquainted and we should be good buddies here."

We can think of two reasons the two have hit it off. They both like to get to the QB. And they both have dabbled in the arts. Williams worked in ceramics at Southern Cal. And in high school in Atlanta, Mauldin embraced pursuits such as ballet and interpretive dance.

That training may have helped with Mauldin being light on his feet and playing faster than his 4.85-second 40 time at the combine. It may also help explain some incredibly expressive post-sack and postgame dance moves photographers captured him in during his Louisville career. I asked him today where his exultational sack reactions come from.

"I'm very passionate about this game," he said. "That's why I'm always classified as a player that goes 110 percent every play. Because with all the things I've been through, football is the reason why I'm here. Along with God, of course. I understand since football has done so much for me, I can do so much for the game. I've gotten so far because of that reason, because I'm so passionate about the game."

Mauldin doesn't have to be convinced about Coach Bowles' advice to loosen up and just play football.

"Everybody says have fun when you go out there," he said, referring to those photos we talked about. "And that's what I can do, as you can see."

New QB's Qualities

Fourth-rounder Bryce Petty had an active and mostly accurate first practice at QB. Said Bowles: "He throws the ball pretty good, has a quick release and nice touch, same things he showed in college." He also threw one interception, to first-year CB Dashaun Phillips.

But Petty has a never-say-die attitude. As Bowles observed: "He's a very engaging guy." The coach also observed that most of the QBs coming out of college today are shotgun QBs to one degree or another.

And Petty had an engaging response to one questioner who asked how he feels about those who label him a system QB at Baylor: "Hey, if they're not talking about you, that's when I need to be worried.

"It’s a process," he added, using a phrase, dare we say it, reminiscent of a young Chad Pennington. "It goes day by day. So hopefully one day you guys will stop talking about me as being a system quarterback, but right now I have to pay my dues."

Free Agency/Tryout Notes

Bowles at his post-practice news conference said he was surprised undrafted FA LB Taiwan Jones out of Michigan State was available: "He showed some good stuff on film. He's a thumper, a pretty heady ballplayer coming in. ... I thought he was going to get drafted."

Among the tryouts: WR A.J. Jenkins was San Francisco's 30th overall pick in the 2012 draft. ... QB Jake Heaps was a scholastic star (40-2 record, 114 TD passes to 18 INTs at Skyline HS in Sammamish, WA) who went from BYU to Kansas to last year at the U. of Miami. ... TE Mike Flacco out of New Haven, Joe's kid brother. ... Duke LB David Helton was an Academic All-American last year and a four-time Academic All-ACC.


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