Ever since Jason Pinnock was 7 years old, he begged his football coaches to let him play cornerback because he wanted to be like legendary Jets CB Darrelle Revis he told reporters on Saturday.
So last season , when the Jets needed Pinnock to switch to safety halfway through the season, he was unhappy initially.
"At first I was saying 'man, why is this happening to me?' " Pinnock said. "Then I took what I learned from corner and knowing what's happening outside of me makes everything easier to learn for safety. Learning those interior pieces, my pops played d-line, so I lived in that world. Backer was the last thing for me to learn. Now I know everything that's happening around me and it helped me out way more than I thought."
Last season Pinnock made the transition from cornerback to safety and started at the position for the first time in Week 16. Even though he only trained at the position for a month, he earned a Pro Football Focus rating of the fourth-best safety in the NFL in the final three weeks of the 2021 season. While Pinnock said he's much more comfortable at the position now that he has had a whole offseason to train at safety, he said the biggest difference is the mindset.
"Mentality," Pinnock said of the biggest difference between safety and cornerback. "It's the mental aspect of the game. You have to know interior, you have to know run gaps, you have to know tight ends, running backs, that's the biggest thing. Corner for me, in my personal experience, I was a lockdown corner so I would just follow guys and take them out of the game. That was my role. Now having to learn all the other pieces, that's always going to be the biggest transition."
While there are a lot of new aspects to this year for Pinnock, something that is familiar is University of Pittsburgh teammate Jordan Whitehead. Whitehead signed with the Jets in March as a free agent after four seasons and a Super Bowl win with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"That was my guy," Pinnock said of Whitehead. "It's surreal. It's come full circle. Coming from playing corner I wouldn't have thought I get to play side-by-side with him. It all came full circle and we love it. The energy when we're out there together, you can feel it."
Earlier this year when Whitehead signed with the Jets he spoke just as highly of Pinnock and what he will be able to accomplish at safety.
"He always had ball skills," Whitehead said of Pinnock. "With him being at safety now, it gives him a chance to play free, roam around. He has a lot of range. As he gets smarter and more comfortable, he will be great."
Now that there is more comfort at safety from Pinnock, the eager team player just wants to be out on the field contributing to his team's success.
"I'm weird, I like adversity, I like being uncomfortable because you learn a lot," Pinnock said. "I took it on the chin the first day they told me. It was like OK if this is where you all think I have the most opportunity, I just want my feet on the grass. If that's what I have to do, that's what I have to do."
See the Green & White on the practice field with the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday at 1 Jets Drive.