Two years ago, safety Jaiquawn Jarrett entered training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles as a second-round rookie out of Temple looking to fill the void from the departure of nine-time Pro Bowler Brian Dawkins. Things didn't work out as planned for Jarrett in Philly, however, and the Eagles decided to part ways with the hard-hitting safety just one game into the 2012 season.
This past New Year's Eve, Jarrett signed a reserve/future contract with the Jets. Now he joins a group of young safeties eager to fight for a starting role alongside veteran safety Dawan Landry.
Jarrett said he never questioned the reasons for his release from the City of Brotherly Love. He is, however, grateful that the Jets are giving him a look to see what he can do.
"The Jets gave me a second chance at the occupation that I love," he said, "so I'm just happy and blessed for this opportunity to come here and prove myself."
Today, in the first practice of training camp with full pads, Jarrett (6'0", 196) lined up at safety with the ones. Dropping back in coverage, he knocked down a ball intended for TE Chris Pantale forcing an incompletion. Rushing past the line of scrimmage on a blitz, he tackled the running back for a loss of several yards.
He has no preference for blitzing versus covering. "I prefer to do whatever's going to help the team win," he said.
Jaiquawn makes sure to take advantage of any and all learning opportunities. Having played with the likes of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in Philadelphia and now joining teammates such as Antonio Cromartie and Landry with the Jets, Jarrett feels "blessed for the opportunities to have played with some of the great players in the league."
Trying to constantly soak in everything his teammates and coaches have to offer, he appreciates the help he receives from the "old guy" on the team.
"Dawan has been great to all of us," Jarrett said, referring to the safeties. "He knows each position, from D-line to linebackers to the secondary. He can coach at any position. So we call him 'mentor' or 'OG.' He's an old head."
In addition to learning from his veteran teammate, Jarrett's ears perk up any time that any safety on the team slips up, as he knows a teachable moment awaits him.
"Every safety gets different coaching points," he said, "because you all mess up certain things. But when a coach is talking to a specific safety, he's really speaking to the whole group. It's important to take notes and learn from it so from that point forward, when that play comes up, you know what *not *to do."
While knowing what to do and what not to do are necessary, taking the field and executing the plays will be something that Jarrett must accomplish to lock up a roster spot and compete for a starting role. Still only 23 years old, he's hoping to convince the Jets that one team's trash is their treasure.