In terms of credited seasons, Jets S Rontez Miles is just a fourth-year veteran. But Myles is 29 and he knows everyone who suits up in the NFL will have an end. After suffering a knee injury in the spring and being placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list in July, Miles missed the Green & White's first eight games of the 2018 campaign and his love for the game grew even stronger.
"It was tough. You love football even more when you get older in the game," he said while appearing on Inside the Jets. "When the injury happened I said, 'I can't play for another five years.' You start missing the game so much, you don't know how much it affects your life until it's gone. It was the longest wait of my life and I'm happy its back."
The affable Miles wears a permanent smile and is one of the most liked players inside the locker room. He is back at home on the field, having appeared the past two games for the Jets before the bye.
"Being sore, bleeding, sweating, being with your boys when you go to war," he said. "Win or lose, we look each other in the face and say, 'I got your back.' It's a good feeling going to war with your brothers."
A reserve safety, Miles has been a core special teamer for the Jets over the past three seasons. The 6'0", 203-pounder, who led the club with 26 special teams stops in 2017, has returned to a specials team group who under Brant Boyer has excelled during the team's 3-7 start.
"I love the new guys and the new energy. I love the new group," said Miles of a unit who has received Pro Bowl efforts from both K Jason Myers and KR Andre Roberts. "Watching it was crazy, but now that I'm back, they know I'm still trying to shake the rust off. But they're right there with me, we're all back together. Coach Boyer does a great job calling what he calls, getting us lined up and ready. I've been here this long and I had a different special teams coach every year, so this is the first time I've had the same one for the last few years. Not only to hear something for the first time and put your faith in it, but to see it. I see the production and I see what he's saying works. It's big."
One thing the Jets haven't done thus far is block a punt. Miles, who serves as a punt protector for Lachlan Edwards, would like to flip the momentum of a game down the stretch with a block.
"Coach is trying to get me rushing the punter more. I've blocked a few in college," said the California (PA) product. "Me and Bruce Carter got one in the preseason. Other than that, everything is pretty much the same as last season. Pretty smooth, just trying to get back into the feel of things."
Despite a four-game losing streak that included a 41-10 throttling at the hands of the Bills, Miles likes the energy of the young roster. But the "Tezmanian Devil" says the players have to maintain their poise and be responsible for each assignment.
"It was an older group when I first came in. Whenever we went to New England or had a game on Monday night, they didn't need to get hyped to perform. Now, the energy is amazing. Sometimes if you're playing too crazy, you make a mistake," he said. "It happens all the time. The culture is pretty much the same, but I feel like there's more energy with the younger group. They all want to win. We just have to figure it out."