Entering Year 2 with the Jets, C Connor McGovern, 28, feels like he's primed for a career year.
"Personally, I feel like I'm confident in saying I'm built for this scheme," he said. "I feel like I've had a really good camp, playing at some of the highest level I've played at. Definitely a step up from last year, a huge step up from last year, and even another step up from two years ago. I'm looking to have, personally, a good year and I think this will be a phenomenal year for the Jets and especially the Jets offensive line."
McGovern (6-4, 306), who spent the first four years with the Broncos after he was drafted in the fifth round out of Missouri in 2016, has been dependable. He played in 16 games from 2018-20 in Denver and was the only Jets OL to play in all 16 games in 2020. He also took the most snaps on offense last season with 969 (98%). McGovern, however, wasn't happy with his play. He battled injury early in the season before settling into a groove Weeks 8-17. According to Pro Football Focus, he graded out No. 8 among NFL centers down the stretch compared to No. 40 Weeks 1-7.
"I wasn't unmotivated last year, but some unfortunate things happened and what have you," he said. "No excuse, I just didn't play as well as I wanted. I took it really personal. When I was a younger player, I always hated to see the guys that got paid and turned it off or get paid, take two years off and turn it back on for their last year [of their contract]. I want to be the best football player I can be everyday I'm out there.
"I wouldn't say I changed a lot because I still worked hard last year, but I've been really happy with the way it's been going and how I feel. I'm really excited about this year."
As the starting offensive line continues to build chemistry, McGovern is getting acclimated to his second quarterback in as many years in Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in April's draft.
"It's been really good," McGovern said. "He's been surprising in the fact about how he carries himself. He looks like a little younger than he is and being in the NFL, I don't always see as much college because Saturdays are a day to step back after a busy week to take a breath. So I didn't really know a lot about him coming into this year, but he's been awesome. He's really grown. He's taking huge strides from OTAs to now and looks like a real professional quarterback.
"I'm expecting big things and the way he carries himself in a game is phenomenal. I know during training camp you guys see practice a lot and that kind of stuff, but he's a gamer. Not that he doesn't practice well, but he takes it to a whole other notch when it's game time. I've been very impressed with his huddle presence during the game and the way he goes about handling the whole drive in gametime is totally different than practice. I think any great player is like that."
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McGovern won't need time to get acquainted to new teammate DE Shaq Lawson, whom the Jets acquired via trade with the Texans. In 2019, McGovern and Lawson, the No. 19 overall pick in 2016, exchanged words postgame when McGovern was with the Broncos and Lawson with the Bills. Now wearing the same colors, McGovern said the hatchet was buried long before they became teammates.
"That video is from two years ago," he said. "The last two times we played each other it was fine. I think we actually laughed about it when we played Miami."
He added: "It's game time, everybody in the moment and what have you. I will set the record straight the two sacks were not on me. I'm excited. He's a great player. I've played him quite a few times in my career, so he'll be a nice addition to the team."