Jets fans may have noticed an unusual number flashing on their TV screens during offensive series. Who is that No. 16?
That, of course, is rookie WR Chad Hansen just trying to capitalize on his chances.
"I'm excited to be a part of the mix and have a bigger role in this offense," Hansen told me this week as he and the Jets were prepping to play the Buccaneers on Sunday. "It's unfortunate, the whole Kerley situation, but I think it's my opportunity to show what I can do and I think it's my job to do that."
Even before WR Jeremy Kerley was suspended by the NFL for four games this week, Hansen was showing up on the field and on the broadcasts. The fourth-round choice out of California has been active all year and has participated in almost 100 plays (75 on offense, 24 on special teams). He saw his most action as a pro with his 32 offensive snaps in the Thursday night win over Buffalo.
Hansen has yet to get his first pro reception, but he has recorded his first third-down conversion, in a manner of speaking. Did you catch it against the Bills?
"Yeah, it kept the drive alive," he said with a laugh about Bills CB Shareece Wright being flagged for illegal hands to his face at the line of scrimmage on third-and-2. Although it didn't officially count as a conversion, it gave the Jets a first-and-10 at their 44 with 15 seconds left in the first half. (Josh McCown's only sack followed and was the last play of the half.)
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"I'm just trying to do the best I can with the opportunities I get, and hopefully that's a catch or two or make some plays," he said, adding that the most important thing that has gone on so far is the trust-building taking place between him and the coaches.
"I think it's helpful," he said, "having their trust and doing the right thing and being able to show that I can play consistently at this level. I think with time, all that trust will come."
"I'm comfortable with those guys," head coach Todd Bowles said of Hansen and third-round rookie ArDarius Stewart. "It all depends on the game plan and what we're trying to do, but they'll definitely get more time."
Unless Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan make a roster move in the next few days, Hansen is one of four Jets wideouts available for Tampa Bay, along with Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse and Stewart. The opportunity dam could be about to break for No. 16 in green and white.