As injuries crept their way throughout the Jets' roster in 2016, outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin was forced to the sideline down the stretch. After suffering an ankle injury in a Week 12 contest against the Patriots, Mauldin missed five consecutive games to close his second season.
"It's a high ankle sprain. I have a partially torn ligament," said Mauldin, who said he does not require offseason surgery. "It was hard for me just to realize. Being in the training room, constantly day in and day out and then actually going to practice and messing it up even more. So I just told myself to relax and wait for next season."
Mauldin was forced to wait early in 2016. The 2015 third-round pick did not receive a lot of reps at the season's onset, fought his way into the starting lineup and then went down with the ankle sprain three weeks later. After playing an average of 27% of the total defensive snaps in Weeks 1-6, the second-year 'backer saw a spike in play time to 76% through Week 12.
The Louisville product responded well to his increased workload, racking up 19 tackles and 13 quarterback hits. Mauldin finished the season second on the team with 18 QBH, six shy of Team MVP Leonard Williams.
"Coach really started believing in me around Week 6. I went out and did what I was supposed to do," he said. "That became a starting role for me and with the ankle injury, I thought I could fight through it. I couldn't and it hurt me a little more being in the training room, constantly having to deal with the ankle injury. I was telling myself I could fight through it, but I'd go out there for practice and make it even worse."
Before his year ended, Mauldin registered his first interception since his sophomore season at Atlanta (GA) HS.
"Last year as everybody was saying, I had a lot of trouble dropping into coverage. Of course my interception this year was not a drop into coverage situation," Mauldin said of his INT against the Browns in Week 8. "But I just know that I'm in the right places at the right time. I plan on doing that a lot more next year, being able to get the coaches' trust and go out there and do what I'm supposed to do at the right time."
Coming into Year 2, Mauldin's goal was to bulk up and improve his coverage skills as the coaching staff was looking for Mauldin to make a leap his sophomore campaign. Looking ahead to 2017, the 6'4" 258-pounder wants to learn how to play with his speed.
"I'm good at 255-258. That's the weight I want to play at," he said. "Definitely won't put on any more weight. Might as well put me at defensive line if I do. I want to play with my speed."