When last Jets fans heard from C.J. Mosley, the former Pro Bowl linebacker was rehabbing two injuries that limited him to two games in 2019, then opting out of 2020 due to personal and family COVID concerns.
And a major question for the defense of head coach Robert Saleh and coordinator Jeff Ulbrich is whether the C.J. fire has been rekindled.
Mosley's view on the question: "The flame's back, 100 percent, and I'm ready to go."
"I'm just excited," he said after a practice session at the Jets' voluntary offseason program this week. "After a two-year hiatus, I'm just excited to be on the field, excited to be on the sideline, running around, excited to be in the locker room, making new friends with my teammates, building relationships with the coaches. I'm just happy to be here."
But more than that, Mosley is displaying his quiet, no-nonsense confidence that he is ready to pick up where he left off as the four-time Pro Bowl player in his five seasons in Baltimore.
"Yeah, I don't have any doubts in myself," he said of if he can return to his all-star form. "It is what it is. I'm here and we'll just let the play do the talking."
One strategic question that comes up for Mosley is if he's a fit in the Saleh/Ulbrich 4-3 scheme after thriving in the Ravens' 3-4. Again, he has no doubts.
"It's funny because people always ask, 'Do you prefer this?' " he said. "But you play all the defenses. So it depends on the call, depends on the formation. I could be in any of the spots. I'm pretty comfortable with wherever I line up."
Saleh also sees Mosley snapping into place at Mike, Will and wherever he's asked to play. As the coach said recently:
"I think he's one of those players that it really doesn't matter what the scheme is, he's going to fit. He's been a fantastic player his entire life and that's not going to change just because a new coaching staff has come in. He's a tremendous leader, a tremendous football player. ... We're excited to get a chance to work with him and to help him get back to playing every day and being the star that he's been."
It's been a long, winding road away from star status for Mosley as a Jet. Two years ago he was all over the MetLife field on opening day against Buffalo — "I was probably having one of the best games of my career at that point," he said — when he suffered his high groin/core injury. He returned a half-season later vs. New England and got reinjured. Season done.
"So just to go through all the stuff I went through, then COVID happened, which no one could control, it was definitely tough, definitely a mental mindset that I had to get over that hump," he said. "But in my opinion I feel like I did the right thing, I took the necessary steps to be where I am right now."
Where Mosley is isn't yet where he needs to be. The pads won't be seriously popping until late July and August, so through the June minicamp, for C.J. and all the Jets, it's about conditioning, learning and building the Saleh culture that should lead to good things.
But for the first time in nearly two years, Mosley's in a good place. And as May is about to turn into June, that's the best news the Jets and their fans could hear from the man who was supposed to be transformative in the middle of their defense since '19.
"I feel very confident. My body feels great. I'm mentally happy, I'm physically happy, I'm emotionally happy. I'm just happy to be back on this field," he said. "I'm just taking it one step at a time, in that linebackers room, just trying to learn this new system and be the best we can be."
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