Among the members of the Jets organization who were on hand to greet new head coach Adam Gase last week was defensive lineman Nathan Shepherd, the third-round selection in last April's draft.
"It was great to meet him," Shepherd said. "I know he's ready to get to work, and I'm getting ready to get to work. My initial reaction is he's a guy that wants to have his office door open. Luckily for me I'm going to be in the building during the offseason, so I'm looking forward to getting to know him."
Shepherd is a thoughtful, studious fellow who came to the Green & White with all those life experiences from growing up in Canada, playing at Simon Fraser University, leaving football and college for a few years to pursue factory and construction work, then returning to the game he loves at Division II Fort Hays State in Kansas.
He had a realistic take on his first season in the pros.
"I would definitely say that I'm not satisfied," Shepherd said. "I have made some good progressions throughout the season, just watching all the tape and stuff like that. But it was definitely not enough for me. I'm nothing more than motivated going into the offseason."
It was a fairly quiet first season with the Jets, yet one that had some interesting numbers down in the trenches.
For starters, Shepherd was a starter in his first pro game, the Monday night opener at Detroit, and made five starts in all, over the first 10 games. He was always available, having been listed as full-go for every practice, on the injury report for only two weeks, and playing in all 16 games to the tune of 343 defensive snaps.
He did contribute 6.5 tackles for loss/no gain and five QB hits. He also had a very good penalty profile. He was flagged just once all season, for illegal use of hands in the home game against New England, but he drew five holding penalties plus an unsportsmanlike conduct at Tennessee against opposing offensive linemen.
At the end of the season, he had just started devising an offseason workout plan, but he had a general idea of what the coming months would hold for him.
"I know I'm going to the NFLPA Summit, and the NFL is putting on a few programs again in personal finance and business.," he said. "Aside from that, we're looking forward to having my family come and visit me. And I'll be training out here because I'll be in New Jersey for the offseason."
He'll also continue to apply the lessons he said that former head coach Todd Bowles had imparted to him and the Jets before he moved on at the end of the season.
"One thing that Coach Bowles prepared us for is facing adversity, not quitting for sure, and being able to think on the fly and adjust and adapt," he said. "So that's something that moving forward, we're all going to look to do for whatever challenges we have ahead."