While the Jets quarterbacks garnered most of the postgame attention Friday night in Cincinnati, we were fortunate enough to sneak away from the crowd and visit with rookie DE Quinton Coples for a minute. The 6'6", 285-pound Coples, who was selected No. 16 overall to help the pass rush, racked up his first pro (preseason) sack late in the third quarter of the Jets' 17-6 loss to the Bengals.
"The guard was short setting me all night," he told me. "I knew I was going to beat him with speed. I got my hands on him and the DBs did a great job of covering. They made the quarterback hold on to the ball for a spit second more and I got him."
Q got him all right. It was an impressive debut for Coples as he was credited with five tackles, two stops for losses, the sack and forced fumble and one PD. He was used all over — DE in the 4-3, inside rusher in sub and DE in the 3-4 later in the game.
"I definitely wanted to be productive," he said. "I wanted to let the coaches know that I've been practicing hard and working hard for this position and trying to figure out my role."
All but a few of Coples' snaps came against backups, but he took advantage of his opportunities. Before Marty Lyons went on live on ESPN's 98.7 Jets Postgame Show, he told me of Coples, "He looked the part."
By all accounts, Coples had a relatively slow start to camp. You could see that he was processing information and not really reacting fast and finishing, but last night was a jump forward. His first step came in the Green & White Scrimmage where there were flashes and he was able to build off of that.
The Jets don't have much use for the term "starter" and you shouldn't either. Even if Coples just works in to the base, he will continue to line up in the 4-3 and in sub. There will be ample opportunities to make plays and the Jets have an impressive line with Muhammad Wilkerson, Sione Po'uha and Mike DeVito.
Q has a great attitude too. He has benefited from lining up against one of the best NFL tackles — D'Brickashaw Ferguson — in practice and he is eager to get back to work tomorrow.
"We definitely can build on this," he told me. "I'm looking forward to Sunday's practice and getting better."