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Jets CB D.J. Reed's Rules to Live By: Never Give Up and Stay Hungry

Unrestricted Free Agent Is Back to a Chicken & Steak Diet to Feed His Desire to Excel with His New Team


Reporters could have queried Jets cornerback D.J. Reed on many subjects in his first media availability of OTAs:

His emergence as a top corner in the NFL with Seattle the past two seasons. His tackling abilities. How he likes the Jets' secondary, the Jets' wide receivers, the Jets in general.

And the subject that drew the most interest was ...

French toast.

"Yeah, French toast just doesn't appeal to me," Reed said after Wednesday's practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center when asked about a recent hot topic on his Twitter feed. "When I go to a breakfast spot, I'm either going to get waffles or pancakes. If I want a cheat day, I never say, 'Ooh, that French toast looks good.' My girl will get it and I'll see it and it looks like thick bread with butter on it. 'Why ... never mind. You do you, babe, I'm just going to get my waffles because I know that's going to be good."

Chicken and steak came up, too. As in he abstained from that protein for four years.

"That actually started in college," he explained. "My mindset was I was trying to see how I could run faster. I actually went vegan for four months. I did that and it was cool, but it was a struggle once I lost my chef, so then I just started eating fish. I did that for three or four years. Didn't each chicken, steak, just straight pescatarian."

Reed's diet fills a purpose for him that leads to those other more mundane pigskin themes. He's always trying to become a better corner, a better defender, a better NFL player.

"Just getting to know him, there's not a stone he leaves unturned," D-coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said. "A lot of people throw that term around: 'He's a dog, he's a dog.' Well, he's a dog, he epitomizes it in every way. I had no idea about the diet but it doesn't surprise me."

Reed said after he got to Seattle in 2020, he was looking for some nutritional assistance because his fish dishes weren't getting it done. He started his Seahawks stay with six weeks on Non-Football Injury following a pectoral muscle tear from an offseason workout. Then last year, he said, "I was having little minor injuries. So I talked to Russell Wilson's chef and he pretty much said, 'Bro, you've got to start eating meats because you're breaking your body down.'

"I started incorporating chicken slowly, then steak, and I stayed healthier on the field. I'm still doing that now."

His health also fed into his two Seattle seasons, the best of his career. He became an outside CB starter, averaged 5.83 tackles/game — third-best among NFL corners for those two years — and mixed in seven takeaways and 17 pass defenses.

Reed came east as an unrestricted free agent in March and he likes everything about the lay of the land in North Jersey. HC Robert Saleh, the Jets' safety plans and their draft picks "were a big encouragement for me, really." Of the secondary, he said, "I'm excited. ... I think we can dominate." Of going against WR Elijah Moore in practice: "Personally, he's the real deal." Of the wideout corps in general: "They're going to be lit. I think they're going to be real good."

Meanwhile, Reed is feasting on the knowledge he's getting every day in learning the Jets' scheme so that he's ready to go to keep proving people wrong about him as he takes on the Green & White schedule. Including a little trip to the Mountain Time Zone to play the Broncos, significant for him for a couple of reasons.

One is ancient history: His first big game as San Francisco's nickel as a rookie in 2018 was vs. the Broncos, when he notched a game-high 12 tackles, including 3.0 tackles for loss and a strip sack plus two other tackles for loss.

Another is from a more recent menu, a Week 7 reunion with Wilson, his 'Hawks teammate, chef tout and now the Denver QB.

No matter how the Broncos game turns out, Reed is ready to roll in his new colors and geographic location.

"I'm just the definition of never giving up, just getting better every day. I really live by that," he said. "It's a day-to-day job, you've got to take care of your body, you've got to grind throughout the day, not just on the field but in the classroom, then you've got to go home, do treatment, then bam, next day you've got to forget about what happened yesterday. So it's a continuous grind."

And a little chicken and steak every day can only fuel the process.

See the Jets on the field during the fifth OTA practice of 2022.

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