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O'Connell Ventures Forth as a Jets QB


The Jets' newest quarterback is not named Mark Sanchez. It's former Patriots backup Kevin O'Connell, who's currently fourth on Green & White's depth chart.

Don't associate him with the Pats anymore — he's put his days in New England in the past.

"I'm a New York Jet and I'm really excited about it. I can't say enough about the coaching staff and the players in this locker room," O'Connell told

"I'm more than honored about the opportunity they've given me and I want to work as hard as I can and do everything I can to be accountable to my teammates."

It's been a pretty eventful two weeks for O'Connell. He was released by the Patriots on Aug. 30 after spending last season there as the backup to Matt Cassel. When Cassel was traded to the Chiefs, the former third-round pick was expected by most to be the backup to Tom Brady this year.

Instead, O'Connell was waived by the Patriots and picked up off waivers by the Lions on Sept. 1. Then the Jets traded for him in exchange for an undisclosed pick on Sept. 6.

"I was obviously expecting to be in New England this year, but for whatever reason they had a change of plans there and I ended up here," he said. "I'm excited and I think this is a great group of guys to be around. It all kind of worked out and I think things work out sometimes for a reason and I think that's what happened here."

The Jets were among the teams that liked the 6'5", 225-pound O'Connell coming out of San Diego State before the Patriots took him 94th overall in the 2008 draft. In 40 games with the Aztecs, he threw for 7,689 yards, 46 touchdowns and 34 interceptions.

He's also mobile. He's the career leading rusher among quarterbacks in SDSU history with 1,312 yards on 396 carries and is second among Aztecs QBs with 19 rushing TDs.

At the 2008 NFL Combine, O'Connell's 4.61 seconds in the 40-yard dash was second for QBs. The Jets were one of the teams that took a close look at him.

"Before the draft I felt like there was a strong chance I would be here," he said. "I had a great visit with the team and Coach [Brian] Schottenheimer and the whole organization and Mr. [Mike] Tannenbaum.

"Draft day came and like they say you always have to expect the unexpected and I ended up in New England. I enjoyed my time there but I've kind of moved on from that. I'm trying to make a positive impact anywhere I can around my teammates and the coaching staff."

With three quarterbacks in front of him in Sanchez, Kellen Clemens and Erik Ainge, the Jets now have four QBs on the roster. They also began last season with four QBs in Brett Favre, Clemens, Ainge and Brett Ratliff.

As the new guy in the mix, O'Connell is focused on catching up and learning the offense as quickly as he can. He's looked at three different playbooks since being drafted (although he barely opened the Lions book), but he said the best thing to do is to put that all behind him.

"It definitely takes time," he said. "You have to use the experience that you do have and apply it but at the same time try to wash your mind clean of the things you might have learned in the past and be ready to learn new things, new X's and O's and new plays.

"Every day is a chance for me to learn and to continue to progress and learn the offense and that's what I'm doing."

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