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Brick Looks Bigger and Sturdier in Year 3


The measurables are still listed the same — 6'6", 312 — but the intangibles and other signs are unmistakable.

There's the added bulk around the midsection, the new veins and musculature in the arms. And there's the parking lot perk, the space in front of the Hofstra dorms bearing the placard:




"We have in-house awards that are given to the players," Ferguson, the left tackle entering his third Jets training camp, explained. "The strength coaches have noticed me working hard. That's all it is, an award for me at my position."

Brick is humble as always but he also can't deny that several factors have come together to help him reshape his body. To earn head coach Eric Mangini's off-season award, he had to work closely with head strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi and his staff.

"I spent a lot of time this off-season with our strength coach," Ferguson said. "We tried to formulate a plan that would allow me to see the growth I wanted physically, and he helped me do that. So I'm very thankful for that opportunity."

But the off-season was about more than just himself. He felt his offense, defense and team being reshaped around him, too. He hasn't tired yet of hearing about the insertion of Alan Faneca at left guard between him and center Nick Mangold, and he adds right tackle Damien Woody to the equation, too.

"I think they've been great guys. One of the notable things about them was that they're hard workers. When they strap on their helmets, they're about business, going to work. They're great communicaters, so that makes it easy to work with them. We can defeat our opponents as opposed to trying to mesh."

But before going up against opposing pass rushers and run stuffers, Ferguson's been getting a good amount of work against the new guys on his own team's defense. And he's been holding his own against Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas and, since his first camp practice as a Jet on Friday, first-round rookie Vernon Gholston.

"It definitely gives the defense a different kind of flair," he said. "You always see new faces every year, but these guys are bigger, stronger, so they play that way. That forces you to kind of step your game up."

You could say that the D hasn't had all its blitz installation yet, or that Gholston is still a little rusty from his NFL-rules stayaway and then his one-day contract delay in getting to practice, but Brick has been noticeably staying in front of the guys trying to get past him and pummel the pockets of Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens.

Brick said even the old and new guys who don't come through his gap have added to his focus this year.

"I'm working out with an added purpose," he said. "We made a lot of moves and I definitely want to do my part with the quote-unquote change that's kind of been made. We want this to be a great year for us. I see everybody working hard —Alan, Damien, Nick and Brandon [Moore] —and I'm definitely following suit."

But we still have to return to the person to explain the change in the individual. Despite the education of the former fourth pick of the draft in his first two pro seasons against some very fine pass rushers within and without the AFC East, Ferguson has always been conscientious, focused, eager to improve.

Yet he was a young player, 22 when he was drafted and shown to his left tackle hot seat. And now he's older and wiser, in some ways a different man.

"Yeah, I think there's a maturation process that occurs," Ferguson said. "You try to step into that kind of authority. You can't do the same things you did in your first year, you can't do the same things you did in your second year. You've got to improve, you've got to get better.

"But you understand more, so your back's not against the wall. It's not like you don't know how to do that. You understand how to do that because you have experience, game experience, and you've kind of failed your way to success. You know the things that don't work, so you work on the things that do."

Some Green & White fans will need in-season convincing, and that will come soon. But this off-season and preseason, D'Brickashaw Ferguson has undeniably found some inner strength.

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