Ryan Clady is slowly taking big steps. The Jets’ new left tackle, acquired from the Broncos in an April trade, participated in some team drills last week when the Green & White reached their halfway point of OTAs.
“A lot of position work. This week I just started working in with the team, team reps,” he said. “Just easing my way in. Don’t want to rush it, don’t want to tweak anything.”
The Jets were in a rush to fill their void at left tackle after D’Brickashaw Ferguson retired. A day after Ferguson eloquently penned his goodbye, the Jets sent a fifth-round pick to the Broncos in return for Clady and a seventh-round choice.
“It was definitely different being on the trade block or whatnot,” Clady said. “But I felt like this was a good fit for me and it definitely felt like a team on the rise. That’s what I was looking for as far as a trade.”
No stranger to a winner, Clady was part of an organization in the Broncos that is the reigning league champion and has appeared in two of the past three Super Bowls. But Clady missed all of last season after tearing his ACL in the spring and he was limited to two games in 2013 following a season-ending Lisfranc injury.
“It’s definitely a new team, just getting the rust off a little bit,” he said of his spring activity. “It’s been a while since I’ve played.”
When healthy, Clady is one of the premier tackles in football. A four-time Pro Bowler, he is penciled in to replace a player in Ferguson whom he was compared to when the former was entering the league in 2008.
“It is a little ironic. It definitely is,” said Clady, a Boise State product. “He is a great player and I always looked up to him when I got in the league. He definitely is one of the premier tackles the past 10 years he has been in the league. I met him a few years back at the Pro Bowl. He’s just a pro, he does it the right way. I think he’s really good in pass protection with his long arms and ability to anchor.”
The 6’6”, 315-pound Clady also possesses long arms, the ability to anchor and he is a fluid mover with excellent balance. When the Jets acquisition became official, Brandon Marshall referred to Clady as one of his all-time favorite teammates with an Instagram post.
“They’ve embraced me since I got here,” Clady said of his new teammates. “So it feels like a real family around here and I’m glad I was traded here.”
Clady has fit in well with his new linemates as the group has already had a couple of dinners together and is planning a barbeque. When not on the practice field or in the meeting room, the group is typically eating together at the team’s facility.
“It’s always tight. It’s kind of weird because when I first got in the locker room, everybody’s spread out because in Denver everybody’s sectioned off with your positional group,” Clady said. “But it’s definitely a tight-knit group and I think you have to have that in order to play well because everyone has to communicate together and be on the same page. It’s one of those things that the offensive line always becomes pretty tight, hanging out off the field and things like that.”
Excited to line up next to big and athletic LG James Carpenter, Clady is familiar with C Nick Mangold from their respective Pro Bowl appearances.
“He’s awesome. He’s a wily vet now and he still can get it done and just his knowledge of the game and to be able to put people in the right spots,” Clady said. “It’s almost like he’s a quarterback out there and I’m excited to work with him as well.”
Clady, who started 16 games in each of his first five pro seasons in addition to 2014, says he’ll be ready to roll for summer camp.
“I’ll definitely be ready by training camp. I’m just trying to transition in and see how it feels and just try to get back to full strength,” he said.