While rookie LB Zaire Barnes is still warming to the NFL, it's his new team that is aiding his adjustment to the league.
"It's been a great time being around great players, learning from the vets, and learning from Coach Rudy as well," Barnes said about LBs coach Jim Gutenberg and learning a new playbook. "I'm getting my feet wet within the playbook and just getting used to playing football again. I've definitely had some growing pains, but you know, it's part of the game."
Barnes was not invited to NFL Combine this year. The Jets selected Barnes in the sixth-round of the draft after an impressive stint at Western Michigan University. In 49 games, Barnes totaled 205 tackles, 10 PD and 6 fumble recoveries. While he has gotten an introduction to the NFL during OTAs, he is not nearly where he wants to be.
"Absolutely not," Barnes said. "I can't say I am, but I feel like I'm building a good foundation to be where I'm at so far. It's for sure a marathon, not a sprint."
All-Pro and Pro Bowl LB C.J. Mosley has been helping Barnes adjust to the speed of the NFL game. Mosley captained the defense in 2022 and helped to elevate the group from the bottom of the league to a top-5 unit.
"We've had good conversations," Barnes, referring to Mosley. "Majority of it though, is just watching by example. He's a great leader and a lot of his film just speaks for itself. He's given me good tips on the field as well by just telling me that 'You got to stick with it' and 'It's just going to come with time.' Every time he has an opportunity to coach me up, he does. With those I just listen and soak it up like a sponge. It's been really good and has elevated my game already so far."
See photos of Quincy Williams, C.J. Mosley, Hamsah Nasirildeen and the 2023 Jets linebackers.
Barnes said that he just wants what is best for the team.
"It's just kind of understanding that you have greatness surrounded around you," Barnes said. "You just want to make sure you're picking up the crumbs that [the veterans are] are leaving behind, just be willing to learn, and be willing to fail. I just have to learn and come back every day showing that I'm willing to put in the work for the collective group."
While training camp starts in mid-July, Barnes knows the key to success in the NFL comes from staying on top of the details.
"You just have to come every day," he said. "You just have to make sure you watch the film, make sure you are on your P's and Q's every single day, because you know what's the expected of you and you know it's for a collective group. That's what I really love about being here, everyone's going for each other."