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Robert Saleh on New Jets Edge Haason Reddick: '3-Way Rusher' with 'Great Feel for the Game'

Adding Javon Kinlaw & Leki Fotu, Re-Signing Solomon Thomas to DL, 'We Feel Really Good About That Group'


Jets HC Robert Saleh and productive edge rusher Haason Reddick never teamed up on a defense until the Jets and Eagles consummated their trade on April Fool's Day. But that doesn't mean they weren't aware of each other's work.

"Haason was a big part of the discussion when I was the D-coordinator at San Francisco our first year there" in 2017. Saleh told Eric Allen on "Just his mental makeup and character were off the charts. Everything you heard of him as a pro, he's loved and revered by his teammates. And adding him to this group, adding that knowledge, the expertise, the veteran leadership is always important.

"He's got a great feel for the game. He's not a one-way rusher. He's a three-way rusher in that he can beat you around the edge, he can beat you with a counter move inside, and he can run right through your face. He's very good with his hands, he's very instinctive, he understands where the quarterback is, and obviously he's got tremendous athleticism."'

Saleh even sees Reddick working some magic on the locker room. He said he thinks Reddick can help out everybody, but in particular he can assist second-year edge Will McDonald elevate his game.

"They're a different body makeup," the coach said. "Will is much longer, ganglier, but the same type of mindset. Will can win outside, he can win inside. Hasson, being a smaller guy, had to learn how to run through someone's face and he's figured that out. That's what Will's got to take, that next step. He's got to figure out how to run through somebody's face and how to get movement. When he does that, he becomes a three-way rusher. Will will be just as dominant."

That's one connection between Saleh and the Jets' new DL additions. Connection No. 2 is even more rock-steady. This offseason, Saleh and GM Joe Douglas wanted to improve the size of their interior line, so they signed unrestricted free agent Javon Kinlaw, whom the 49ers drafted in Round 1 of Saleh's last season with the 49ers.

"Javon has all kinds of talent, the intensity, strength and power," Saleh told Allen. "I think he's going to learn from Quinnen [Williams]. I think he's still not even scratching the surface of the direction I think he's going. He's still every bit the No. 1 pick we took way back in 2020. He's got a great opportunity. He's coming to a room that's got some good depth and good balance around him so he can just focus on getting better."

While we're on the interior DL, we should also mention Leki Fotu, an additional UFA signing from Arizona. Fotu also has a Jets connection, although not one that influenced the current Jets brass — he played under Utah DL coach Sione Po'uha, who spent all eight of his pro seasons as the Jets strong and reliable defensive tackle starter.

"A guy like Leki, people don't realize he's got 4.8 play speed at 330 pounds — ridiculous!" Saleh said of the former rugby player. "We're really excited about him and taking that next step in his professional career, asking him to do something he's never been asked to do but he's very capable of doing it.

"It was solid to get Solly [re-signed Jets vet Solomon Thomas]. He's another one of those guys who brings energy for days. He's an unbelievable locker room presence, and he's getting more and more productive on the football field. Then to get Kinlaw and Fotu, we managed to get bigger on the interior, which was important for us but not at the risk of losing athleticism."

So the coach makes a strong case for his D-line to be getting stronger as the new free agency/trade crop join holdovers John Franklin-Myers, Micheal Clemons, Williams, Thomas and McDonald: "We feel really good about that group."

But don't be surprised if the unit's construction work continues, in free agency, the draft or both..

"As I've always said with pass rushers, the more the merrier," Saleh said. "So if we get a couple more of them, that would be awesome."

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