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Jets S Chuck Clark: I Still Have a Lot to Prove

Veteran Safety Tore ACL Last Spring


This time last season, Jets S Chuck Clark wanted to show his new teammates he belonged as the new face on defense after he was traded from Baltimore.

One year later, not much has changed as he reinserts himself into the lineup after tearing his ACL on the final play of the team's final practice last spring.

"I still got that chip on my shoulder," Clark said. "But I think going through that injury process that it just gave me a new gratitude and gratefulness for this game. I missed the whole year, so I got a lot to prove from that sense. People are like, 'Oh he missed the year, he lost stuff.' Yeah, alright. Watch."

Before the injury, the eight-year veteran held the NFL's defensive iron man streak having played 1,248 consecutive snaps, dating to Week 16 of 2021. He didn't know the severity of the injury when it happened. In fact, he thought it was normal soreness and ran to the sideline. Business as usual.

"That happened on a Friday," he said. "I came back in on Monday and [the training staff] was like, 'Yeah, that happened.' I went the whole weekend moving around the house, my car. I couldn't believe it when it did happen, like I wasn't accepting it."

Clark, who grew up in Virginia and went to Virginia Tech before he was drafted by the Ravens, decided to rehab in Florham Park around his new teammates and coaches that he had known for three months.

"He's worked his tail off," Jets HC Robert Saleh said. "He's been here every day. He didn't have to. Even last year during the season, he didn't have to be here to rehab, but he was here and staying connected to the team. He's putting together a good OTA and excited about the trajectory at which he's going."

Clark said of the decision: "Just kind of that feeling that I'm about to be a free agent and I did like the feel that was here in my time of being here. Being around the building, I can kind of hear what's going on in the meetings and my chances to pop in, see what's going on in and it just gave me a good feel."

Jets general manager Joe Douglas re-signed Clark in March, the day before the new league year began. Clark doesn't have any restrictions and was cleared for football activity in February, seven months after his surgery.

One year removed from his injury, Clark is still slated to start, but his running mate is different. He was scheduled to play alongside Jordan Whitehead last season, who signed with the Buccaneers in free agency, and instead is likely to start next to Tony Adams, who started 15 games in Clark's spot in the 2023 season.

"Me and Tony watch film at the house together," Clark said. "The more you do that type of stuff off the field, it gets easier."

Clark is accustomed to performing in top defenses. In his time with the Ravens (2017-22), they ranked No. 4 in total defense, No. 2 on third down, No. 4 in the red zone and No. 2 in points allowed. Over the last two seasons, the Jets have the NFL's No. 2 defense.

"We can be great," Clark said. "Like we say every day, what our standard is, what we're chasing, we're ready to have some ballgames out there this year when the offense is putting up points for us and we're going out there, getting people off the field and causing turnovers."

See all of the best photos from OTA No. 8 during the 2024 offseason program.

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