Trying to earn a roster spot on the 2019 Jets, defensive lineman Bronson Kaufusi listens to a familiar voice to keep pushing ahead.
“I go back to what my dad always tells me,” said Kaufusi, whose father coaches at BYU, Bronson’s alma mater. “He says, ‘When you get on that field, you have to be the spark.’ Whatever it takes when I’m out there, I want to be the spark for the team, make big plays that change the tide of the game.”
The third-year veteran signed with the Jets last September and bounced on and off the team’s practice squad before playing in the final three games. He racked up three tackles, one sack, two pass defenses and a forced fumble in the team’s 22-10 victory over the Falcons last Thursday, and his teammates have taken notice of his play.
“Last year, we couldn’t see as much as what he can do, but now we can because he’s getting more opportunities,” defensive lineman Leonard Williams said. “He’s just been dominating. He’s been killing every opportunity he gets. He was like the star player in the defensive line room from the last preseason game and I think he’s on the right track.”
Throughout training camp, Kaufusi has regularly taken snaps with the first team and established himself as a part of the rotation. The former third-round pick has grown in defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ scheme and is playing faster while seeing more clearly, which has enabled him to make more plays.
“Just since the spring, he’s been absolutely focused,” Williams said. “It seems like every day, he’s working on something new and he just has such a high motor and engine that he doesn’t stop. That’s what’s most impressive to me. It seems like sometimes he may be hurting and he finds the way to find energy and keep pushing through. He’s like a warrior out there.”
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Despite a physically imposing presence at 6’6”, 275 pounds, Kaufusi brings a cerebral approach to the game.
“I love analytics,” said the 28-year-old, who majored in analytics and began applying them to his game his sophomore year in Provo, UT. “It really connects well with football and there’s definitely a place for it. I love numbers and I love seeing what they can tell you. I try to bring it into my game every single snap.
“An easy example is when the team comes out at the beginning of the game and it’s first down and they bring out two tight ends, they’re going to run the ball. Then you have to narrow it down to where and personnel. They’re always using factors that can tell you what the best option is.”
A blend of brains, power and will, Kaufusi constantly has his eyes on what’s ahead of him with two preseason games remaining.
“For me, I don’t like to look back. I like to look ahead. I just see that we can be great,” he said. “Knowing that, it’s really exciting because you know there’s more, so every day, we try to crack that open, push it a little more. Let’s see how we can execute even more at a higher level. It’s really fun.
“I love how it’s an attack defense. We all hunt together as one and every snap, you bring it. You can look around left and right, you see your teammates and you know they’re about to bring it. There’s a fire and a definite understanding that when you line up, we’re going to come at you.”