OLB Lorenzo Mauldin is seizing his opportunity with more playing time and continued to do so in the Jets' 9-6 loss to the Rams Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Midway through the second quarter, Mauldin and DT Steve McLendon found their way into the backfield, splitting a sack on third down to force the Rams to punt. The second-year player busted through the middle of the line, beating Rams RG Cody Wichmann before making his way to Rams QB Case Keenum.
"As much time as I play, I'm going to produce," Mauldin told me following the game. "It's just a factor of me getting on the field, into the game and getting my motor going. I don't give up on plays. I got a half sack today and that's just the outcome of me getting my motor going."
Coming into this year, the coaching staff said they expected Mauldin to take a leap in his sophomore campaign. After a rather quiet first half of the season, Mauldin has been given more responsibility over the last three weeks, playing an average of 74% of defensive snaps. In that span, he's racked up eight total tackles, seven QBH, 2.0 sacks and two passes defended. He also recorded his first career interception in Week 8 against the Browns, which led to the decisive points of the game in a 31-28 Jets victory.
In the third quarter of Sunday's contest with the Jets on top 6-3, the 6'4", 259-pound Mauldin almost came away with his second career pick, tipping a pass intended for speedster Tavon Austin.
"I saw the ball in the air and I knew I was getting into my drop. He threw it right in my area and it went over my head," Mauldin said. "I got a tip on the ball and I was just upset that I didn't get a couple more steps in to jump and get the pick. I just know when I got that first pick, everybody kept saying they're going to come in bunches, so I'm just looking for my next pick."
Despite the hunger to get his hands on the rock again, chances are his next sack will come before that. Mauldin now has 2.5 sacks on the season, 1.5 shy of his 2015 total and ranks second on the team with 16 QBH, one short of DL Leonard Williams. Mauldin was part of a pass rush that accounted for 3.0 sacks and eight QBH against L.A., tying the second most of the season.