Bradley McDougald, the safety who came to the Jets in last month's trade of Jamal Adams to Seattle, is an NFL veteran entering his eighth full season with an experienced, insightful take on his personal transition game to his new team, his new conference and his new coast.
But that doesn't mean that McDougald isn't having growing pains fitting into coordinator Gregg Williams' defense.
"Every day is different. It's just adjusting and learning every day," McDougald said Wednesday following the team's first scrimmage-style practice of training camp. "It's crazy because you could be eight years in the NFL and still feel like a rookie in certain situations and certain defenses until you're all the way acclimated and you're all the way comfortable.
"There are going to be some situations you can't coach that you have to, in a sense, be thrown in the fire and experience and learn it that way. Any type of information, any type of experience you can get is great. So adjusting and learning."
You may have detected that "adjusting and learning" is one of B-Mac's mantras. He used it again as he discussed playing more deep safety than he had with the Seahawks while Marcus Maye moves more into Adams' box safety role.
"There are new things I need to adjust to, new things I need to learn and pick up as well as the playbook," McDougald said. "But it's all about getting your eyes in the right place, getting your body lined up in the right place, doing all the things before the ball is hiked to put yourself in a better position to make those plays. And that's what I'm still working on every day. Every rep I get, every time I can watch film, just adjust and learn and transition my mind. It's not about what I did last year or in the years coming to this. This is the situation I'm in, this is the position I'm in, and all I can do is find a way to be successful in it."
Yet McDougald has been successful in his previous pro transitions. After starting out with Kansas City, he played 47 games (31 starts) for Tampa Bay from 2014-16, recording a combined five interceptions, 21 pass defenses, a fumble recovery and 228 tackles. Then after heading to the Northwest as an unrestricted free agent, his line the past three seasons was 47 games (39 starts), five INTs, 19 PDs, four forced fumbles and two recoveries, and 223 tackles.
So he brings consistency and productivity with him back east, as well as an experienced safety's view of the defense unfolding in front of him and a veteran's ease in talking about it. The Jets as a unit and a team had an up-and-down practice, and McDougald said that speaking as a player, he felt his unit could improve in not allowing as many explosive runs, covering better at all levels, and communicating better.
But also as an experienced safety, he wasn't about to buy into any red-alert storylines being advanced about the Jets defense ahead of opening day Sept. 13 at Buffalo.
"There's no concern, but there's definitely an urgency there," he said. "We know what we need to improve on, most importantly. And it's not just the scrimmage. Every time you step on the field, it's serious. You're getting evaluated, it's like an interview. This is your product, this is your business that you're putting on film. Guys that take that lightly, you know they don't last very long in this league.
"In my head, [the practice] was real to everyone out there playing. And it was great because we see the areas we need to focus on and improve on the fastest. It's no stress, no worrying being done. But it's definitely a new urgency. Guys know they just need to get better."