Rontez Miles is known naturally as "Tez," but an alternate nickname could be "Timex." He's taken a licking in his wild NFL ride, with enough painful twists and turns to try the patience of less committed players, but keeps on ticking.
"It was tough missing all of training camp and preseason and then the first eight games, and then just being thrown in there on teams. I felt rusty," the Jets' safety said as he packed up his locker at the end of this past season. "Then the last two or three weeks, I felt like myself. And starting on defense in the last game gave me more confidence that my body is still able to perform."
Miles, after coming off offseason knee surgery that landed him on the PUP list for half a year, did throw himself around Gillette Stadium in the season finale against the Patriots. He made his first start at safety in two seasons and recorded five solo tackles. He was on the field for 68 defensive snaps, his most in a game since a pair of 73-snap games in 2016.
But it wouldn't have been much of a Tez season without some special-teams contributions. In Miles' 13 "teams" snaps vs. the Pats, he upended punt returner Julian Edelman twice — his first multi-tackle kick-coverage game of the season.
And that came one week after his first pro rushing attempt, the 4-yard dash for the first down out of punt formation from his PP (personal protector) position against the Packers. It was the Jets' first successful fake-punt running play since Tim Tebow's two conversions early in the 2012 season.
"I know I'm just starting to feel good, so it's only going to get better through the offseason and training camp," he said. "I'm looking forward to whatever happens. Whatever comes, I'm going to be ready for it."
Miles has spent his career with that approach. He got in a mere 15 special-teams plays as an undrafted free agent rookie in 2013. He began '14 rehabbing from hip surgery and ended it with a serious leg injury suffered in a December practice. As a result, he didn't play a down that season, but his teammates voted him the Jets' Ed Block Courage Award recipient.
In '15, Rontez returned from being a final cut and spending seven weeks on the practice squad before he finally got his pro career off the ground. He logged a full slate in 2016 and most of '17, although he missed five weeks that August and September with another injury.
Of course, Miles wasn't talking about merely being ready physically for 2019. He can become an unrestricted free agent, and he's well aware that with the coaching and scheme changes ahead, after six tortuous seasons he could be looking for a new employer.
But he said he's now living with his son in North Jersey near the team facility, he'll be working out in the area in the offseason, and he'd like to hang around for another campaign in green and white.
"I've been here so long. I love the Jets. This is my home now," Miles said. "I would love to play here and hopefully retire here if that's possible. But you never know. You've got to let the dice fall where they fall.
"I'm a free agent now. I'll leave it in God's hands. But I'll be ready."