Nobody's had a better showing at the Jets' rookie minicamp than tryout OLB Cory Reamer.
Without being prompted by a question for a second consecutive day, Rex Ryan praised Reamer's football smarts today.
"He's going to replace [defensive coordinator Mike] Pettine and there's no question we can do that," Ryan said. "I believe that with this young man."
Pettine, whom Ryan has labeled a rising star, need not worry about his job security after coordinating a defense that led the NFL in 2009 in seven major categories, including points and yards allowed. But Reamer, an Alabama product, has already showed the coaching staff that he's a great worker who's reliable and understands the game.
"It's very complimentary," said Reamer when informed of Ryan's Friday praise and just minutes before the Jets' second-year head coach would gush about him again. "That's what you're here to do is catch the coach's eye. The one advantage I knew when I was coming up here was we ran a similar defense at Alabama, just new terminology here. I knew I would be able to pick up on it fast."
An overachieving intangible type, Reamer became a staple on Nick Saban's defense. He doesn't have jaw-dropping athletic skills or numbers — he's just a football player.
"When you're not the most athletic, you have to know where you're supposed to be and know what to do. That's the only way I know," said the 6'3", 231-pound 'backer. "When Coach Saban first got to Alabama, he told reporters that I wasn't a guy that he would have recruited and he didn't think I would ever play in his system. I knew right then that the only way I'm going to be out there is if I don't make any mistakes and that's the only way I know how to make this team as well."
It's easy to get overshadowed on a 'Bama defense that just got six players drafted last weekend including a pair in both of the opening rounds (MLB Rolando McClain eighth overall to Oakland, CB Kareem Jackson 20th to Houston, CB Javier Arenas 50th to Kansas City and NT Terrence Cody 57th to Baltimore). But Reamer, who started seven games last season and totaled 50 tackles, two sacks and one interception, was a valuable contributor for the national champions as they claimed SEC supremacy with a throttling of Florida and then went one step further with a win over Texas at the Rose Bowl.
"I don't even thing you could put words on it. We got to face the team that beat us for the chance to go the national championship the year before in Florida and it was just exciting to go to the Rose Bowl," Reamer said. "Then when we got to go to California, it was quite the experience, just running down the field and seeing all those camera flashes go off. You see it in the Super Bowl, but to actually experience it is pretty special. It's a lot of fun.
"Now I have three rings to show for it, so it's pretty nice. When you walk in the locker room, everyone's like, 'Do you have the rings?' Everyone wants to see them."
After spending the past five years at Alabama (he was a medical redshirt in 2006), it's only natural that the mind might revert back there occasionally.
"I was making a call yesterday like we did in college and Coach Pettine called me out on it in the film room," Reamer said with a laugh. "He said, 'You must be having a "Saban flashback." This is the term we use.' We're having a good time. It's really a lot more relaxed than I expected it to be. As long as we go out there and get after it, these guys are going to be willing to teach us, which is really nice."
A converted safety, Reamer became a Sam or strongside 'backer in 2008 and started 11 games for the Tide. In his first season at outside linebacker, he recorded 35 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
"It was a big change. I was skinny — I'm still trying to add weight and catch up. It's just been a slow process," he said. "I was 215 and I was 195 when I first got to college. I'm just adding weight daily and trying to increase it every day, just get bigger so I can take on these John Conners of the world."
If Reamer is going to challenge to make an NFL roster, he knows he'll have to excel on special teams. He's had the benefit this weekend to work under one of the finest special teams coaches in NFL history in Mike Westhoff.
"Even as a starter, I played all special teams," Reamer said. "If I'm going to make this team, that's something I have to work at and make sure I can show them I can play special teams at this level. That's my key right now — to make sure I can contribute on all of those."
By the end of the weekend, Reamer hopes he'll get a contract offer. Facing the longest of odds, he's already made a name for himself and that's an impressive first step.
"Hopefully I'll have a chance to come back. That's the ultimate goal. That's what I came up here for. We'll see," he said. "It's exciting. Now just go finish up what you came up here for. Hopefully I walk away with an opportunity to come back for OTAs and for camp."