As a rookie, Kenrick Ellis appeared in just five games. On Monday night against the Texans, the second-year pro will equal that total in Week 5.
"I feel great," he said during an appearance on "Jets Talk LIVE" this week. "I'm just happy I get a chance to compete."
The 6'4", 346-pound Ellis started in place of Sione Po'uha in a Week 1 laugher over the Bills and appeared on 30 snaps. Po'uha, who continues to battle a lower back ailment, returned to the lineup in Week 2. But Ellis has been a valuable reserve, logging 20 snaps in Week 2 vs. the Steelers, 21 snaps in a Week 3 OT win over the Dolphins and then 39 snaps last Sunday vs. the 49ers. He had four tackles (one solo) in Week 4, but the Jets had 17 missed tackles and yielded 245 yards on the ground.
"It has been surprising," he told me of the team's 31st-ranked rush defense. "If you look at the tape, it's not just like we're getting dominated physically. It's a matter of missing tackles, which we definitely worked on. That's one thing Rex made sure we corrected this week was to make sure we corrected our tackles."
Ellis said the Jets were ticked off after their performance and they had a physical workout on Thursday.
"We call it 'bloody-nose Wednesday' because today is basically the only padded practice, so it's real physical," he said. "We try to get as much contact as we can according to the new CBA. Today was real physical — taking on double teams and doing little things like that to prepare for Monday."
Preparation was critical for Ellis in the offseason as he trained with veteran LB Bart Scott at TEST Sports Clubs in Martinsville, NJ. He credits mixed martial arts in helping him become an improved player in the trenches.
"If you look at the tape last year, my hands were non-existent. So I allowed offensive linemen to get inside my pads and that was the credit for me not having a successful first year," he said. "This year I'm using my hands a lot better and it's helping me make a couple of plays, take on the double team a little bit better and just giving me a better opportunity to compete."
Off the field, Kenrick spends a lot of time at home chilling with his best pal — Max.
"That's my best friend — the old English Bulldog. I got him to keep me occupied when I'm off the field during football," he said. "It's almost like the calm before the storm. You go home, you play with your dog and you play video games and it takes your mind off some of the stresses of the game."
Click on the Video Player to meet Max and watch my entire interview with Kenrick on JTL as we previewed Jets-Texans.