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For Gates, Miami Door Closes, Jets Door Opens

Clyde Gates, Isaako Aaitui and Konrad Reuland were claimed off waivers over the weekend to complete the Jets' 53-man roster.

However, Gates is the most popular name of the bunch and the only one with NFL experience as he played in almost every game last season with the Miami Dolphins.

"Man, I'm just blessed to have this opportunity," Gates told this evening. "Unfortunately, my situation, it wasn't a good situation. I guess the Jets really liked me, they brought me down, gave me an opportunity and I'm just blessed, man."

After attending Division II Abilene Christian, Gates was the Dolphins' fourth-round draft selection in 2011. As a rookie, he proved to be a versatile performer, playing wide receiver as well as returning kickoffs and punts.

He finished the season with 34 kickoff returns for a 24.8-yard average, two receptions for 19 yards, one rush for 4 yards, and three punt returns for 32 yards.

"I'm just trying to bring one of my biggest aspects, which is speed and whatever else my role is," Gates said.

The 5'11", 190-pounder suffered a hamstring injury on the second day of Dolphins training camp this summer, which forced him to miss several early practices. Despite the minor setback, Gates said last week he still felt confident he would earn a spot on Miami's roster.

"That's the past," he said. "I couldn't control that. I control what I can control. I couldn't control the hamstring issue, I couldn't control that decision, but I'm here now and I'm blessed and I want a new start here."

One of the biggest reasons Gates may have been pursued by the Green & White is his relationship with Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. Sparano coached him in Miami last season and Gates shared a memory with the coach that continues to impact him today.

"Tony, he really doesn't talk much," Gates said. "He'll tell me, 'Hey get it together, you better get it together.' That's the last thing I really remember him telling me when I was in Miami. It was my rookie year and we were in a meeting or something and I guess I did something wrong and he was like, 'You better get your stuff together, kid.' That stuck with me that whole year and always stuck with me."

The Dolphins fired Sparano after Week 14 last season and Gates reached out to him, texting him to "keep God on your side" and that "God has your back."

"He texted me back and he was like, 'OK, thank you. You're a good kid and continue to work hard.' So that was pretty cool," he said.

Gates stated that the one Jet he knew personally before joining the team was fellow WR Jeremy Kerley, as both players hail from the state of Texas. But he also noted that he and fullback John Conner worked with the same trainer for the NFL Combine.

With the regular-season opener less than one week away, Gates' first day with his new family went well. He admits he'll probably be learning on the go but believes he is capable of the challenge.

"Honestly, I thought it was over," he said. "I had never been in this situation. I didn't know how to react. I was like, 'Dang, is it over for me?' So I just tried to stay positive, tried to relax, and let it all handle itself and not add too much pressure on myself.

"I don't know how to explain it. I want to thank God for this opportunity and I want to take full advantage of it."

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