Hope springs eternal at this time of year in the NFL. And for certain position groups on the Jets, there's a good amount of hope right now that they'll be making contributions in new offensive coordinator John Morton's scheme.
The Jets' tight ends, of course, hadn't been a featured position the past two seasons.
And then there are the fullbacks on the roster. All one of them.
His name is Julian Howsare.
"Fullback seems to be in our offense right now," Howsare told me during the Jets' recent rookie minicamp, at which he and a handful of other first-year players were invited. "I'm looking forward to seeing if I can do it."
It's interesting that Howsare could be the player to snap that slump, because as Jets fans remember, back in the 2015 offseason when he first arrived as a free agent out of Division II Clarion in Pennsylvania, he wasn't even wearing a white jersey and lining up on offense.
"Yeah, it was about two weeks into training camp my rookie year that they moved me over to fullback," said Howsare, who is high on Clarion's season and career lists for sacks, tackles for loss and forced fumbles as a DE/LB. "It took me a little bit just to understand the different perspective from the offensive side of the ball. But I think I picked it up pretty quickly, and playing defense helps me a lot on offense as well."
The road hasn't necessarily been smooth for Howsare, who was a final cut in 2015, then was signed to the Jets' practice squad, released and signed again to the P-squad.
Last season he made the 53-man roster and got in for three plays on offense in the first two games. Those three plays actually prevented the Jets from going through an entire season without a fullback on their regular-season roster for the first time in franchise history.
Nevertheless, he was cut, re-signed to the practice squad and cut again. He then spent several weeks on Seattle's P-squad last October. Came January and the Jets re-signed him to a reserve/future deal. There's clearly something the organization likes in his size (6'3, 255), motor, preparation and determination. Maybe 2017 is finally the year on the Julian calendar for him to make his pro breakthrough.
"That's the way I'm looking at it," Howsare said. "I'm optimistic. That's the goal this year is to be the guy. That's what I'm doing every day, just working as hard as I can to make that happen."