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Darron Lee's a Young Man of Many Handles

Jets' First-Round ILB Justifies Teammates' Nicknames by Grabbing Two Picks at Today's Practice


Darron Lee is the Jets' first-round draft pick and an engaging young man, so it figures that nicknames would flow freely to him.

Such as "Pup," which is what Lee says fellow inside linebacker Erin Henderson calls him, as in "Pup, carry my shoulder pads."

Such as "Little Dog," which is what DE Sheldon Richardson calls him in part for his program weight of 232 pounds.

After today's training camp practice, a few more names may accrue, such as "Deuce" or "Double-D." That's because after Lee turned in his second interception of the afternoon, he gave his winning smile and stuck two fingers in the air to signify the event.

Afterward, though, Lee was his humble self again when talking to reporters.

"Yeah, I think it would help anybody's confidence," he said of his two-pick performance. "But like I said, I'm just out there practicing hard, trying to get better."

He's got some fine mentors with him on the inside, such as 10th-year MLB David Harris and Henderson, the eighth-year player who came to the Jets last year and stepped up to the first unit with the free agency departure of Demario Davis.

"I've learned a lot" from Harris — how to be a pro, how to have longevity in this league," he said. "I've learned a lot of things he knows, just picking his brain, his knowledge of the game. There's stuff that's like, wow, I would've never known that."

And Henderson doesn't just hand his rack off to No. 50 to carry to the equipment team after a hot, sweaty day at  the office. "He's a great mentor to me," Lee said. "I'm always asking him questions. It's just a great relationship."

Some things Lee needs no mentor for, such as his 4.47-second speed, which he flashed a few times in flying to the ball last Friday against the Redskins and in dropping into coverage today to make his thefts against Ryan Fitzpatrick and Bryce Petty.

"Yeah, he's going to contribute big-time," said Richardson. "I told him to be patient with it, it's all going to slow down eventually. ... The more you know the playbook in and out, the more it will slow down for you because you'll start to process the game of football and how they're attacking your defense."

Richardson admitted it's tough wrapping his head around the concept of "a little dog" woofing behind him.

"You're used to playing with Double-D [Davis, not Darron] at 250. Dave comes in 260, a little heavy, and loses and trims up before the season — he's 245 now. So just seeing little skinny guys back there, it's a little funny to me, that's all. But he's also effective, so I don't knock him for it. I just make fun of him a little bit."

Lee can take it and it looks like he can give it. And however many nicknames and accolades he gets, he says it won't change his approach to the game.

"I'm not really a guy that's going to be satisfied," he said. "I always feel there's room for improvement. Take one good step, there'll be another eight more good steps, so you've got to keep working."

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