Greg Van Roten has been there for the Jets this season. Through 10 games, through an ever-shifting cast on the offensive line, the 30-year-old guard has played ... every ... single ... snap.
"Greg Olsen [a former teammate on Carolina] told me that in this league you're never too old for an attaboy," Van Roten, who grew up in Rockville Centre on Long Island, said on Wednesday. "If you're not getting better in this league, you're not staying the same you're getting worse."
Playing on an offensive line that has been under constant pressure through a number of casting calls Van Roten has been a constant. He has played an eye-opening 622 snaps, which is 100% of the plays run by the Jets' offense in 2020.
"I give the guys who have stepped in credit," he said. "It's tough to jump in in the middle, especially against a defense like we faced last week [at the Los Angeles Chargers]. It's difficult, give guys who played a lot of credit and it's a testament to our depth that we can plug guys in and finish the game."
The Jets are the fifth NFL team (he played two seasons in the Canadian Football League) Van Roten has played for. Over that time he has yet to encounter a team that had gone this long without a victory. And as Jets fans and a media contingent chatter on about the possibility of an 0-16 season, Van Roten wants no part of that conversation.
"Why would you want to be in that group?" he said. "You saw Frank [Gore] at the end of the last game saying it's not the way he wants to go out. The hunger is there, especially if you're older. I don't want to be a part of one season that is historically bad. We have six games left and we will try to win as many as we can.
"When Frank talks you listen, he's going to be in Canton and he's one of the most accomplished guys to play the game in a time where playing running back is especially brutal. He has perspective and insight you need to listen to."
Inevitably, when the talk is about a winless season the conversation turns to the prospect of having the No. 1 pick in next year's NFL draft. GVR has heard it all and wants no part of that particular conversation either.
"It doesn't matter to me," Van Roten said. "If we lose every game it's possible that I'm not here next year. Nothing in this league is guaranteed. Not the next game, the next year, or the next play. In this league, you can't concern yourself with the long term."
Several Jets players have recently discussed how the locker room has stayed positive and stayed together. It's one of the things that has impressed a veteran like Van Roten. And it's a credit to the quality of the players and coaches.
"When we win, it will be a relief for sure," he said. "You never expect to lose this many in a row in this league. When we finally win, we want to get another and another."
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