Most college football players must often dream about what it would be like to play in a Monday Night Football game, and Vernon Gholston is no exception.
"Yeah, I always did that, you know, picture what it would be like playing in a Monday night game," Gholston said before the Jets left for San Diego to play the Chargers. "It's exciting for this to be my first one."
So far Gholston has been patient and knows that his first season in the pros is a learning process. That he is making a position change from DE in college to an OLB in the 3-4 scheme, at the NFL level, is a kind of baptism by fire.
Head coach Eric Mangini is also confidently patient.
"Players develop differently. There's no one set timeline that I've ever seen for a rookie," Mangini said. "I see tangible improvement each weekend."
The coach pointed out another phase in Gholston's game.
"He's really having his biggest exposure on special teams," said Mangini. "He's playing a significant role for us there."
"He got to put some good pressure on the punter," said Mangini of Gholston's Week 1 debut vs. Miami. He also pointed out that the rookie did a nice job in terms of his hold-ups and played on the kickoff team as well. "Talk about new worlds for him to stand up at linebacker, but now covering on punts and covering on kickoffs, that's a new world, too.
"The one thing that I know with Vernon, as he puts things in the bank, you see the quickness, the explosiveness, all those attributes that made us draft him where we did."
It's understandable that Jets fans are eager to see that explosiveness immediately, but they can also be comfortable giving Gholston time to learn. The veterans on the defense have greatly contributed to the Jets being tied for second in the league in sacks, one behind Seattle, through the first two weeks of the season.
Gholston and the defense have their work cut out for them Monday night, as the Jets take on San Diego's high-powered offense, fifth in the league in yards per game after two weeks.
RB LaDainian Tomlinson's status as questionable for this week's game with a toe injury should not suggest that the Chargers will be limited. As safety Kerry Rhodes pointed out, "He's going to be one of the best players on the field. He's one of those type of players. If he is 90 percent or 85 percent, it's better than a lot of people at 100 percent. He's one of those dynamic guys in the league that you have to face."
Gholston is confident that defense can slow down the Chargers enough to come away with a win. "They've got them across the board," he said of the Chargers' offensive playmakers. "Defensively, if we can get a handle on those guys and let the offense get ahead, I think we'll be in pretty good shape."