Working the waiver wire on Sunday afternoon, the Jets acquired three players for their 53-man roster: T Ben Ijalana from the Colts, LB Scott Solomon from the Titans, and RB Alex Green from the Packers.
Ijalana has spent as much time rehabbing as playing over the past couple of seasons in Indianapolis. The Colts selected the Villanova product in the second round of the 2011 draft, but he has played only four career games. Last year he re-tore his ACL on the first day of training camp and spent the whole season on IR.
Tennessee drafted Solomon out of Rice in the seventh round in 2012. He played in 13 games last year and recorded two tackles. This preseason, he had eight tackles, including a tackle for loss and a pass defense.
Green, a third-round pick of the Packers out of Hawai'i, has racked up more NFL experience than either of the other two, playing 16 games and starting four over the previous two seasons. He has 138 rushing attempts for 475 yards (3.4 yards/carry) and 19 receptions for 131 yards (6.9 yards/catch) in his career.
Ben Ijalana Bleeds Green
Growing up in South Jersey, Ijalana grew up with green blood flowing through his veins. It was a different shade of green, though — Eagles green.
Hearing he would be headed to a team in the East, the thought of possibly playing for a rival of his beloved Birds made his heart stop. Three words allowed him – and his family members – to finally breathe easy: "It's the Jets."
"I'm happy to find work, happy to be close to home, and happy to belong," the 24-year-old said. "One man's trash …"
He compared joining the 53-man roster instead of the practice squad to "not being the last kid picked," and appreciated the confidence that we showed in him by acquiring him off of waivers.
"It's sort of the Jets saying, 'Hey, we don't know anything about you, but what we do know, we want that, we want you,' " he said. "The goal is to give them more than what they expect."
Playing college ball at Villanova University, Ijalana credits NFL scouts for noticing "a big fish in a small pond" a couple of years back.
"If you can play, they'll find you," he said.
Ijalana will learn both tackle positions for the Green & White, joining rookie Oday Aboushi as the backup tackles on the current depth chart.
Scott Solomon's Surprise
Solomon knew he was on the bubble to make the Titans' roster, but getting the call to hear he was not in their plans for this season still came as a surprise.
"It was a little disappointing," Solomon said. "I was kind of down about it. But it was a numbers thing, and that's just part of the game."
His Titans blues didn't last long though and quickly gave way to eager anticipation in a "roller-coaster of emotions." His agent called him at noon on Sunday to report that he was now a new member of the New York Jets.
"They said right away they were signing me so it was pretty exciting," he said.
The 6'3", 262-pound LB is looking forward to rejoining former Titans teammate Leger Douzable on the aggressive Rex Ryan defense.
He will contribute as a Sam or rush linebacker on the outside. Getting after the quarterback is his strength, but, said the new No. 99, "I feel like I've gotten pretty good at my coverage responsibilities, too.
"I look forward to doing what I can for the team," Solomon said. "I'm real excited to be a Jet."
Alex Green Packs Up for 'Big Turnaround'
Green was checking his phone every five seconds. "It was like waiting for draft day again when they released me," he said.
Finally, he was able to calm down and relax. Then his phone rang, and the Jets were on the other line. "It all worked out in the end," he said.
After playing in 16 games for the Packers over the past two seasons, Green didn't make their final cut this year. He's thankful for his new opportunity in green and is looking to adapt to his new home as quickly as possible to prepare for the season opener against Tampa Bay on Sunday.
"It's a big turnaround," he said. "I have to not think too much about what was in Green Bay or what could be here in the future and just get ready for the Buccaneers."
Coming from a West Coast offense in Green Bay with similar concepts, though different terminology, he's confident in his ability to learn the playbook quickly.
The third-year RB considers himself an "all-around back" who can do a little bit of everything. "I can bring power, I can bring elusiveness to the table, and I have big-play ability, I feel like," Green said, "so I'll try to showcase that here and see what happens."