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Jets TE Jeremy Ruckert on QB Aaron Rodgers: 'He Expects Greatness Out of You'

Long Island Native Has Solid Expectations for His Third Year in Green & White


After his first two NFL seasons were punctuated by injuries and modest contributions on offense, tight end Jeremy Ruckert said that in 2024 he is dripping with excitement and anticipation.

"The big thing about the offseason is that we know what we're getting into with Aaron Rodgers," Ruckert, a Long Island native, said recently. "Last year there was uncertainty about when he was going to get here and how it was going to be. Everything was a new experience, where he changes everything at the line -- you have to kind of know what he's thinking and what he's expecting you to do.

"To be able to spend the preseason with him, you'll be able to train your mind be able to do the kind of things he wants you to do so that in training camp you'll be able to click a lot sooner and we're excited about it. He's a Hall of Famer, you can tell when you're in the meeting room, or out on the field that he expects greatness out of you. And that's a great thing for a team and we're excited for that challenge."

Ruckert, and of course the rest of his Jets teammates witnessed their season transformed in the blink of an eye and a twist of an ankle when Rodgers sustained a torn Achilles tendon four plays into the quarterback's Jets debut back in Week 1 (Sept. 11) against Buffalo.

For the burly 6-5, 249-pound Ruckert, two years removed from a stellar career at Ohio State, his time with the Green & White has not gone exactly as planned. After being drafted in the third round (101st overall) in the 2022 NFL Draft, he missed all of the OTAs and about half of training camp because of a foot injury, then had a lone reception (for 8 yards) in his 9 games as a rookie.

Ahead of this past season, Ruckert sustained a shoulder injury in the preseason game against Carolina and was again brought along slowly. In the first three games he only saw action on special teams as the No. 3 TE behind Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah.

Ruckert saw action in 14 games, was targeted 22 times and had 16 receptions for 115 yards.

Take a look through some of the best photos throughout the Jets 2023 season.

Asked about his assessment of Ruckert's season, HC Robert Saleh said: "A lot of improvement. We found a lot of versatility with him. It's unfortunate he got hurt, against Washington, played some fullback and did a really nice job back there. If you can create that versatility, one at the point of attack, he's already a really good blocker to show versatility in the backfield and split as a wide receiver, really excited about him and the things that we can do with him."

Count Year 2 as baby steps for a big dude who expects more from himself as he prepares for the offseason.

"I think overall the game slowed down a lot more this year," Ruckert said. "We had a lot going on last year with coming back from the injury, learning a new style of offense and being from college systems and stuff and going through the huddle and that aspect of the game. I was able to play a lot faster, I felt healthier, had that little issue at the end of the year, but I feel good about it. I'm excited, not satisfied with how we played as a team this year and just want to use that in the offseason and continue to work to our goal to do that. I have to do my part."

That "little issue at the end of the year he mentioned" was landing in the concussion protocol after the Week 16 (Dec. 16) victory over Washington. He did not recover in time to play in the final two games, at Cleveland and at New England. The injury cut short Ruckert's increase in playing time after Uzomah suffered a season-ending MCL injury against Atlanta in Week 14 (Dec. 3). In the Jets next game, a win over visiting Houston, Ruckert was on the field for 33 plays (49%), his biggest showing of the season when he made 3 catches for 37 yards.

"First [this offseason] I want to get my body ready again," he said. "That's the biggest thing, I can start training until you start feeling 100 percent. Continue to fine tune little parts of my game." He added: "I want to continue to stay on the path I'm on, not trying to do anything special, just trying to do whatever the team needs. To do that I have to be healthy, do my part and be out there, keep training to be ready. If you stay ready and the opportunity presents itself and being able to make those plays — that will keep you in this league."

Ruckert takes particular pride in his prowess as a run-blocker, a talent that was especially important this past season as the Jets played more than a dozen different combinations on an offensive line beset by injuries.

"Another thing about this year was that I was able to identify defenses a lot better than last year," he said. "Once you have an idea of where they're going to be, it allows you to not think and allows you to just play. So for me, that's big. And the run-blocking aspect of my assignments and who I'm working with, whether I'm alone or not, allows me to come to the ball and play hard.

"The biggest thing about run-blocking was being able to play free and play hard and be the one to bring the physicality."

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