Jets cornerback D.J. Reed was talking about head coach Robert Saleh when he popped a question of his own.
"Is Saleh still doing his routine of running the stadium steps before a game? He always kept himself in good shape."
Reed, who signed with the Green & White in free agency, is yet another former 49ers player reunited with Saleh -- a list this year that includes LG Laken Tomlinson, DL Solomon Thomas and LB Marcell Harris. Reed played in Saleh's defense with San Francisco.
"I would say he's the same," Reed, 25, said recently. "Obviously he's now a head coach and that gives him a different perspective. Now I'm hearing him talk in front of the whole team when I used to just hear him with the defense when he was the defensive coordinator.
"We had a good relationship in San Francisco. It's love."
Reed was drafted by the Niners in the fifth round (No. 142 overall) in the 2018 NFL Draft. He played two seasons in the Bay Area before being waived and picked up by Seattle, where he also spent a couple of seasons. Now with the Jets' fortified cornerbacks' room, Reed is expected to team with the team's top draft pick, Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner.
"My biggest takeaway so far is that we have a lot of good ballplayers in the room," he said. "A lot of guys who can start in this league. [Brandin] Echols has been dealing with a shoulder, [Bryce] Hall is a really good player with a lot of potential and talent, Sauce is all potential. Isaiah Dunn is a really good football player, [Michael] Carter is a really good nickel. [Javelin] Guidry is sticky. The whole room is really stacked and it brings out the best in us every day."
From the other side of the line of scrimmage, Reed has had an introduction to second-year quarterback Zach Wilson and he likes what he's seen so far.
"Every year I watch the draft," Reed said. "I remember him out of BYU, a baller. He did some crazy stuff at BYU -- off balance, cross shoulder, on one play he jumped over a dude to make a throw. His arm strength is phenomenal, he can throw out routes from the other hash. His arm strength and accuracy are really elite, I think."
See the Jets' 90-man roster leading up to training camp.
Jordan Whitehead Gets Comfortable in Unfamiliar Territory
The Jets' other defensive back signed in free agency, Jordan Whitehead, said that making the move from Tampa Bay put him in unfamiliar territory.
"For me, I didn't know what to expect, it's my first time with a different team," Whitehead, a safety, said. "But it's been comfortable the first week, and now I'm picking up the football things, again being vocal, flying around and having fun."
After spending four seasons with the Buccaneers and facing QB Tom Brady in practice the past two seasons, Whitehead, 24, said that he's been impressed by Zach Wilson through OTAs and minicamp.
"He's been making a lot of great throws," he said.
Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said that he's been impressed early with Whitehead's ability and leadership qualities.
"We are so fortunate to have gotten him," Ulbrich said. "He is an amazing human being. Every day he does something that just lights me up again. Like damn, he can do that, he can do that, he can do that. I don't know what his role was in Tampa regarding whether he was a leader or not, but he has absolutely assumed that role here with the fellas."
Whitehead, informed about his DC's comments, said: "It means a lot when any person says good things about you. It's uplifting to know I have a role here, I can be myself, do what I'm doing and I know great things will come of that."
John Franklin-Myers: 'More Meat on the Bone'
John Franklin-Myers, 25, is another one of the Jets young veterans. He had a stellar, you might call it a breakout season in 2021 when the Jets signed him to a contract extension. With that security blanket gained midway through the season, JFM went on to what some are calling a career year, tying for the team lead in sacks (6) with Quinnen Williams.
"Everybody wants to talk about a career year, but there's so much more meat on the bone," he said. "I could have had 10 sacks and improving and getting more is something I look forward to."
Cast off by the Rams as one of that team's final roster cuts in August 2019, JFM was snapped up by Jets general manager Joe Douglas. He spent the 2019 season on injured reserve, then bounced back and played in 15 games in 2020 and 16 last season.
Now, with an eye on the 2022 season, JFM has been joined by a group of reinforcements -- Carl Lawson and Vinny Curry are both returning after missing last season because of injury and illness.
"Those are two of my favorite players on the team," JFM said. "Vinny helped me a lot while he was hurting last year and Carl broke down every single offensive lineman every week for us. They're two guys you can't say enough good about. Hopefully they'll help me get sacks."
In free agency, Douglas added Solomon Thomas and Jacob Martin to the roster. The added depth is a new dimension for the Jets' defense. The team also drafted Jermaine Johnson, a lightning quick defensive end out of Florida State.
"Solomon is a former first-round pick, Jacob brings so much in terms of speed on the rush," JFM said. "Both are character guys."
Career year or not, Franklin-Myers knows there's room for improvement, whether he plays inside or outside on the defensive line.
"I'll play wherever they want me to -- inside, outside, linebacker, receiver, quarterback," he said. "We're going to help each other make a lot of plays and get a lot of wins. For me, I'm working on more lateral quickness because sometimes I was able to get through but not able to change direction quickly enough. It's important for my game."