David Clowney is a name that's been showing up on everybody's list of Jets players to watch ever since last year's preseason opener at Cleveland.
"I'm excited anytime I get the chance to step on the field," he told newyorkjets.com after this morning's training camp practice. "Preseason, regular season, even if it's live in practice like a scrimmage where all the fans come out. I'm excited to be in game mode anytime I get a chance to step on the field."
Coming to camp at SUNY Cortland three weeks ago, the enthusiastic Clowney was away from the comforts of home in New Jersey and excited to be "right at home playing football." But his game initially wasn't on the same level.
"I had a rough camp at the beginning," he said. "The last couple of weeks have been real strong for me and I had a good preseason game. You definitely want to have something for the coaches to talk about in the end. They always remember the things that you did last most."
Head coach Rex Ryan has seen the improvement in Clowney's game.
"The guy is a football player," said Ryan on Wednesday. Referring to some video he played for reporters a few days earlier, he said, "Just like I showed you those plays of him blocking away from the play, he wants to be a complete receiver. I like the strides he's making."
As the quarterbacks have gotten on the same page with the receivers, Clowney has emerged.
"What he always says is 'Who can cover the Clown?' " said Ryan. "After he made his catches I made sure to say 'Who can cover the Clown?' I don't know if anybody can cover the Clown."
The Clown, as his teammates call him for short, looks forward to hearing defenders repeating those sentiments often in the weeks ahead. "Hopefully," he said, "we can keep on saying it throughout the season."
Although the 6'0" 188-pound receiver only has one regular-season catch, a one-handed 26-yarder from Brett Favre last season, he's been a consistent threat for two preseasons. Last year he became known for his big-play ability with 222 yards on eight receptions in two games before injuring his shoulder.
In this preseason's opener against St. Louis, rookie Mark Sanchez made the long-distance connection with the Delray Beach, Fla., native on his first NFL pass — a 48-yard strike down the right sideline. Later, third QB Erik Ainge also hit the Clown with a 50-yard TD pass off of play action, with the receiver leaving the Rams' safety and corner in the dust.
Heading into the second full week of the NFL preseason and into the Jets' Monday night game at Baltimore, Clowney's 102 receiving yards and \yards from scrimmage both led the league.
"Sanchez has been looking pretty good," said Clowney. "He's not too cocky, not cocky at all but very confident in his game. I'm just hoping all three of our quarterbacks come out and do well between him, Ainge and Kellen [Clemens] and that they all go out and perform every game and whoever gets the starting job, hopefully they do what they need to do to get to the Super Bowl."
The former Virginia Tech player says that overall the wideout group catching the ball in green and white is versatile and underrated.
"We have something special with our receiving corps. All our guys have something we can do and bring to the pot," he said. "Chansi Stuckey — he's a short, quick guy, somebody that can make three people miss in a phone booth. Myself — a deep threat, speed. Brad [Smith] is a Randle El type receiver, he can throw the ball, catch it, do reverses all of that. And J-Co [Jerricho Cotchery] is one of the best route runners in the league.
"All of us have something to contribute and I think we're going to do that this year."