Nick Bellore knows that versatility is a key to his game, whatever that game may be.
On the field, his position is inside linebacker but his role has been to do everything he can on special teams while waiting for his turn on defense. He did just that his first two seasons with the Jets, leading our special teams in kick-coverage tackles both years, 48 total.
If his reps this preseason are any indication, he could be in line for more defensive work as the immediate backup to inside starters David Harris and Demario Davis. In the just concluded preseason, Bellore logged 142 plays on defense, fifth-most on the unit, and 191 plays including specials, sixth-most on the team, and his unofficial total of 15 preseason tackles tied with Josh Bush for the Jets lead.
Despite all that, Bellore knows which side of the ball his bread is buttered, even under new special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica.
"We took what Mike Westhoff taught us and then we put some new twists on it," he said with a tip of his hat to the retired coach. "And I think it's going to be really good. It's hard to build any continuity on special teams because it's such a transient league, but we've been able to keep some of the same guys around, which I think will really pay dividends in the long run."
The multiple roles for him and his specials teammates has him pumped for the start of the season, which of course comes Sunday at MetLife Stadium in the Jets' season opener against the Buccaneers.
"I'm excited about it. We can do a lot of cool stuff, moving guys around because they know how to play multiple spots," he said. "I'm playing some different positions myself and there are a lot of guys who are moving around quite a bit."
Bellore's TV gig, which will begin even sooner than his 2013 season, has taken a similar path to his pro playing career. For the second straight year, he'll serve as a co-host of Jets Huddle, our Saturday night show that will kick off this year on Saturday at 11:35 p.m. ET on WCBS Channel 2. And he's starting to get comfy with a microphone in hand.
"It's fun to work on it because it's something that's a little out of my comfort zone. I'm always 'Oh, gosh, this is kind of tough,' " he said. "But it gets easier every episode, and it's fun for me. You get to learn some things about the guys that I probably wouldn't have if I wasn't in that position. I just hope it really helps the fans get an inside look into what we're all about, and not just on the field."
Bellore's cohost this season will be Austin Howard, and we'll chat up the Jets' big right tackle next week before his Jets Huddle debut. This week, Nick, the now veteran broadcaster, says he'll be interviewing rookie DT Sheldon Richardson, which could be a hoot, knowing how playful the St. Louisan can be.
As Bellore details his plans for this season's debut show, he's leaning hard to starboard off the stool in front of his locker as a horde of reporters descends to talk to his new next-door neighbor, QB Geno Smith.
"I may have to request a new locker," he told me. "Geno's a good guy, but when this time comes around, it gets a little congested." He was only kidding. If Smith can help Bellore and their teammates get wins on the field and can make a guest appearance "on set" in the Jets' Atlantic Health Training Center locker room, the ensuing congestion will be well worth it.