What is Jamal Adams' secret to having apparently skipped his rookie season and moved right on to NFL veteran status?
The key, he says, is locking in.
Adams, the Jets' first-round safety starter, used some version of that verb phrase eight times in some eight minutes of speaking with me and then on camera for this week's JetLife Insider feature, which will air on Saturday at 11:35 p.m. on CBS New York.
Where did all that rookieness go, I asked.
"I definitely feel I'm mature enough to go out there, do my job, do what the coaches ask me to do and try not to be a hero," he said after today's practice. "Just locking in at all times and doing my responsibilities."
Without using the rookie's phrase that pays, head coach Todd Bowles said his maturity showed through during "an outstanding game" in the Jets' season opener at Buffalo.
"It wasn't so much just the plays," Bowles said. "His eyes were good, his reads were good. Everything he did, he did it the right way. He made the tackles when opportunities presented themselves. He made the plays he was supposed to make."
Adams' maturity informed his thoughts about his head coach's praise — "It's great to know ... but as long as we didn't win ... that's the most important goal" — and also on if he had a favorite play against the Bills — "Not really. I don't look at highlights. I look at just making as many plays as I can for the team."
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Probably the one play he didn't get a statistic for in his five-tackle, one-PD, 1.5-tackles-for-loss/no-gain outing was his most eye-popping. On the first drive of the game, in the end zone, he rocked Buffalo TE Charles Clay a split-second after a Tyrod Taylor fastball glanced off Clay's upstretched hands and into the arms of CB Juston Burris for an interception return back toward midfield.
"We had a great call for their playcall," Adams reflected. "I had basically a 2-to-1 read, I played with my eyes, I did what I was coached to do and made a play on the ball. It was huge for JB to come up with that pick."
In another stadium on another day, that play might've been a game-changer. On Sunday against the Bills, it postponed the difficulties to come in the 21-12 opening-day defeat.
But Adams spoke like a veteran of four NFL seasons instead of just four pro quarters when he talked about what he and the Jets should take from that loss into this weekend's trip to Oakland and the Black Hole.
"Just locking in at all times, doing your job," he said. "When 11 guys are doing their job, it's hard to get beat."