For D'Brickashaw Ferguson, being a rookie in the NFL has extended beyond the final whistle of the 2006 season. The fourth overall selection in last April's NFL Draft is still learning the ropes of life as a professional football player nearly two months into his first offseason with the Green & White.
"This offseason I just said that I would relax, get a sense of the time period, and get a good feel of how everything works," said the left tackle who started every game for the Jets in '06. "I think you definitely have to make sure that you're prepared for the season, but I've had a chance to relax and kick back a little bit."
Ferguson, a 23-year-old Freeport, New York native, chose to stay relatively low-key this offseason. Travel plans, meticulous workout regimens, and even furthering his off the field endeavors have been put on hold for the most part until next offseason at the earliest when he will have a better grasp of the time off.
"Next year I might decide to maybe do some schooling just because I'll have a better handle and know what to expect for the offseason," said Ferguson from San Diego in a recent telephone interview with newyorkjets.com. "I think it's the situation where you make sure that you get away but also make sure that when you decide to hit it - hit it hard."
There was one aspect of his football career that Ferguson wanted to touch base upon in his first offseason, however. The soft-spoken rookie was pursued by media types throughout the year about his playing weight (listed as 312 pounds), and he says he is still in somewhat of an experimental mode.
"There has been a lot of advice I've been taking in that regards," he said of his weight. "I've had a chance to meet with a nutritionist over the year, and we had the opportunity to decide what the best course of action is and try to go out there and do it.
"I've explored some options," he added. "I'm just going to continue to work hard and train and try to just find what works best for me."
In February's Pro Bowl, there were a total of five offensive tackles selected to the AFC roster to either starter or reserve roles. The weight range of the tackles was from 305 pounds (Matt Light, NE) to 345 pounds (Jonathan Ogden, BAL). The average weight of these five all-stars was 331.8 – nearly 20 pounds heavier than Ferguson's listed weight.
The fact that Ferguson was notably slimmer than the AFC's best of the 2006 season hasn't affected his mentality in regards to his future in the league. Foot speed and an extensive wingspan meshed with proficient technique and leverage have always paved success for the former All-American tackle. Still, the idea of adding few more pounds to augment his blocking ability isn't completely out of the question.
"It was a situation where I could see the benefits of being heavier, but I've played at my size before – for my whole career – so it's not like it's a surprise to me or anything," added the 6'6" lineman, who graduated with a degree in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia. "This is my body, this is how I play, so it's not like I'm concerned.