After getting his feet wet as an NFL rookie, Jets CB Juston Burris is ready to jump into the deep end in Year 2.
"I want to come in here and compete for a starting spot," he said before the team's mandatory minicamp reached its conclusion. "Last year, they gave me that opportunity. But I didn't completely do what I needed to do to do that. So this year, I'm coming in with the mindset that it's my job to take."
Burris, a fourth-round pick from NC State, appeared in all 16 games last season and ranked third on the team with six specials teams tackles. Making his first NFL start against Miami in Week 15, he recorded the first interception of his career. With an uptick in playing time in the season's final quarter, Burris finished with six passes defensed and added seven tackles.
"That first half of the season where I wasn't playing, getting those reps, I was trying my best on special teams because that's where I was making my mark," he said. "Just being able to go out there, play and see how these receivers work, how an actual NFL game is, that was very valuable."
Burris figures to challenge for time across from Morris Claiborne in training camp. He was frequently outside the numbers during the spring when the defense was in sub packages with Buster Skrine moving inside to the nickel spot. Burris has welcomed the addition of new DB coach Dennard Wilson.
"He's a fiery guy. He's going to get on you, but at the same time, he's funny," he said of Wilson. "He's going to make light of situations if the time calls for it. But at the same time, he'll get on you if you mess up, and you need that. He's a great coach, great leader of our group and you can see the culture change. We have a lot of leaders stepping up. We're going to have a good group."
Burris, who says he played last year between 212 and 215 pounds, wants to play below 210 this year in order to match up with some of the league's quicker receivers.
"Last year, I think they tried to keep me with bigger guys who weren't as quick just so I can get hands on them and stuff like that. This year, I'm trying to work on my quickness so I can cover smaller, faster guys," he said. "I think that's the biggest thing. I want to be able to guard everybody, I don't want to have one matchup here and one matchup there. I want to be able to guard whoever lines up across from me. My weight is down a little bit, so I've been able to run a little better. I've had a good offseason."