Matt McChesney on the Frankfurt Galaxy
This is the last of a four-part series on the Jets players participating in NFL Europa this spring.
NFL Europa is ready-made for a guy like Matt McChesney.
Before we get to McChesney's Frankfurt period, let's backtrack a bit. The friendly, tattooed, 6'4", 307-pound Coloradoan showed up on the Jets' roster in the second half of 2005 as a defensive tackle, and even made three tackles in the last three games of that lost season.
McChesney remained a DT until he was a final cut last September. Then he was brought back as a guard. On offense. On the other side of the trench.
"I was on the practice squad all year," McChesney recalled from Germany for newyorkjets.com recently. "Once they moved me, [OL] Coach [Tony] Wise just started teaching me this and that. He didn't have as much time individually with me because we were into the season and he had to get the guys who were playing ready to play. I was just mostly giving scout team looks. I tried to get as much info as possible."
He even got one of head coach Eric Mangini's "Practice Player of the Week" awards in the week leading up to the huge Christmas Night win at Miami. What did he do to earn that honor?
"Pretty much I just ticked off the defense for a really long time," he said back then. "I try to give them a little extra push, a head slap, grab a facemask — whatever gets them going. That's my job, to get them ticked off. In turn, they take it out on the real guys in the trenches."
The old DL mentality in an OL body.
Now we can hit the fast-forward. McChesney has started all seven games at right guard for the Frankfurt Galaxy, including the 23-10 win over the Rhein Fire on Saturday that kept them tied with the Cologne Centurions atop the NFLE standings at 5-2.
"Over here, I actually get to practice and then to play, which is something I haven't done in a year," he said. "I try to learn something new every day. It's not about fixing the whole package at one time. It's about the one step you mess up one day, getting that step right the next day."
It's also about working on all those new things against other young pros who are doing the same.
"You end up playing everybody twice, so by the end of the year you know what you're going to see from everybody," McChesney said of the Europa experience. "You know you're going to get everybody's best shot because no one over here's a superstar. There are no big contracts, no egos. Everybody's over here to work. Who's going to say you play at all after this? Depending on the day you play, you should get the best shot from the player across from you."
The Jets' guard picture is crowded. Brandon Moore returns as the RG starter, and as Mangini has said about incumbent LG starter Pete Kendall, "Pete's situation is unchanged." Adrien Clarke had four starts and 14 games for the Eagles in 2005. Adrian Jones and Wade Smith return. Sixth-round rookie Jacob Bender and others could figure here as well.
And soon McChesney will rejoin this group hug.
"When I first moved from nose to guard, I was kind of skeptical about it," he admitted. "But to this point I've embraced it."