In his sophomore NFL season, Folorunso Fatukasi started to make some noise.
But once this campaign was over, the 6'4", 318-pound defensive lineman chose to focus on what he and his teammates had come through rather than any kind of personal progress he might have made.
"I think we can't deny the fact that we've gone through some adversities," Fatukasi said before heading out to Far Rockaway, NY, to start his offseason out with his family. "But the group of men in this locker room, we all bonded together, faced these adversities and got over them. I feel like it's easy for some people to sulk, 'woe is me,' but we're not like that at all."
Nor is the man they call "Foley." He arrived as the Jets' sixth-round pick out of UConn in 2018 and got on the field for all of three defensive plays all season. But rather than go into a shell or call it a career, he set about improving his on-field résumé.
And in this recently concluded season, all of Fatukasi's numbers ballooned. He played in 14 games and was a regular contributor to the Jets' D-line rotation with 389 defensive snaps, plus another 114 on special teams. Of his 33 tackles, eight came at or behind the line — seven on rushes and receptions, plus one on his first pro sack in Game 15 against the Steelers.
See the Best Photos of the D-Line During the 2019 Season
DL coach Andre Carter, who came in last year as a member of Adam Gase's new Jets staff, was asked what differences he saw in Fatukasi's game from watching video of him as a rookie to coaching him up in Year 2.
"Just attacking," Carter said. "For Foley, it was a process, just like everybody else. But he started to see how good of a player he can be. We just continue to tell him to keep chopping wood as well as everybody else, keep playing good football."
That's Fatukasi's plan heading into his third season, implementing anything that will "help me grow as a player." But he again praised his teammates alongside whom he raised his game in 2019.
"Just the opportunity I've been given, being able to do it here, at this moment, to be with these guys, I think it was just very special," he said. "I enjoyed coming to work every day, being with the guys working, battling with them. And I believe that's kind of fitting, to go through all that stuff with your brothers around you and be able to help produce. It feels good."