For almost 16 months, since he was selected in the fifth round of the 2006 draft, tight end Jason Pociask has been little more for Jets fans than a name on the Green & White roster.
Friday night, he finally climbed off the flipcard.
"The most important thing is obviously winning the game. That's always disappointing," the well-schooled Pociask said as he got dressed after the 37-20 loss to the Vikings. "I know when I look at the film, I'll see things I need to work on. I was lucky enough to get in the end zone, but none of that matters if we don't get the win."
Say what you will about it being the fourth quarter of a lost cause in the second preseason game against the Vikings' second- and third-stringers, but Pociask showed he's got game. And his last impressive achievement of the night was an example of the skill many thought he didn't have coming out of Wisconsin last year: receiving skills.
He put that myth to rest by taking off from the line, blowing past former Purdue rookie LB George Hall, and snatching the 23-yard pass from Marques Tuiasosopo with 2:22 to play over Hall's back.
"As soon as we lined up, I saw the wide safety and the middle of the field was wide open. Tui saw it, too," Pociask said. "Tui threw a great ball."
But although he's too modest to admit it, there was a great catch at the end of that great ball. And it was a significant catch as well. It was Pociask's first touchdown catch as a Jet — indeed, because he had no TDs (and only 12 receptions) in four seasons with the Badgers, it was his first catch in a game situation since his days as the offensive MVP at Plainfield High in Indiana.
"Receiving is one many things I want to keep working on," he said. "Obviously if people want to classify you as a blocking tight end, you want to prove you can [catch the ball], too. You want to improve on what people think your weakness is. When I was at Wisconsin, it was easy to characterize me as a blocking tight end when we had such a great receiving tight end as Owen Daniels on the team."
If not really great yet, Daniels is pretty good. He had 34 catches, five for touchdowns, as a Texans rookie last season.
But Pociask, who missed all of his rookie season due to injury, seems intent on making up for lost time, not just as a receiver — he finished with his first three pro catches for 35 yards vs. the Vikes — but in his specialty on the first drive of the fourth quarter. Lining up as a fullback and move TE, he planted effective point-of-attack blocks on four straight runs by Danny Ware totaling 31 yards.
"I did a lot of H-back stuff at Wisconsin. Whatever they tell you to do you're going to do it," he said. "Obviously, we've got tight ends here with a bunch of talent, Chris Baker, Sean Ryan. There are quite a few guys who are well-rounded in both those areas."
Perhaps Pociask is well-rounded enough himself to throw Jets Final-45 pools into disarray by making his way onto the opening-day roster. Whether he does or not, he might never have gotten this far if it weren't for some help from Brooks Bollinger, the current Viking and former Jet and an ex-UW teammate who just happened to be performing in this preseason game Friday night.
"I was able to talk to Brooks after the game a little bit," Pociask said. "I knew him when I first got here last year, and I was with him for two years at Wisconsin. He's a great competitor and leader. It was a privilege playing for him in college.
"When he was here, yeah, he helped me out with the rookie situation I was in. He was encouraging, and it was nice to have a familiar face on the Jets last year."
Now the polite Midwesterner is on his own. But with his late emergence on national TV on Friday night, maybe Pociask can become a familiar face to Green & White fans.