One area of annual concern for Jets fans is who on the current roster is going to follow in the footsteps of the steady Calvin Pace or — dare we say it — the relentless John Abraham and become a reliable outside pass-rushing force.
Lorenzo Mauldin says he can do it.
"I feel like I could be the guy," the fourth-year linebacker told me at his locker during the just-concluded mandatory minicamp. "I can go out there and do what I do best, which is rush the passer. But it's up to [DC] Kacy Rodgers, it's up to Coach Bowles, it's up to KC [linebackers coach Kevin Green]. I'm pretty sure they're going to put the best guy out there.
"That's all I can say: May the best man win."
Mauldin was not bragging. He spoke softly and thoughtfully about the season ahead. He knows that after an ankle injury that kept him out of the final five games in 2016 and the back surgery that canceled his 2017 preseason and regular season, he's not on many radars pinging outside the Atlantic Health Jets Training Facility.
"Everything's going good, going according to plan for me bouncing back from my surgery," he said. "Everything's back to normal. I'm out there running at the same speed that I was before. I'm definitely staying in the training room so that I can stay healthy this year."
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Mauldin, the third-round pick out of Louisville in 2015, showed some flashes in his first two seasons with 4.0 sacks in 15 games as a rookie — two sacks came in a Game 8 bundle vs. Jacksonville — and 2.5 sacks in 11 games as a sophomore. Can he possibly pick up and improve on where he left off?
The answer to that could be yes, since we have yet to see Mauldin incorporate the teachings of Greene, the Pro Football Hall of Famer, into his game.
"KG, he's all about power," 'Zo said. "He does not like finesse. He likes to have that in our toolbox but he's more power first than anything. He's all about knocking teeth out."
Before performing any gridiron dentistry, Mauldin during the next six weeks before training camp will chill with family both in Atlanta and around San Diego. And he will continue to train and "be proactive" so that he can make an impactful return to the field.
"Definitely, definitely," he said about champing at the bit for his return. "Of course it took me a little bit to jump back into my pass rush and everything, but I caught back up and now I'm looking good out there.
"The only thing I can do now is hope to wow the coaches like I did before.