Chansi Stuckey has summoned a former Jet wideout to help him get ready for training camp.
"I'm going to go down to Atlanta to train with Terance Mathis," Stuck told me after a recent minicamp practice. "I train with him and he's been a huge help to me. It's kind of like having Coach [Henry] Ellard when I'm down away from football. It's great working with him."
Oh boy, the name Terance Mathis might stick in the craw of more than a few members of Jets Nation. Mathis, who began his career with New York's AFC representative and never caught more than 28 balls in his four-year tenure with the Green & White, signed with the Atlanta Falcons in 1994 and posted the following stat line: 111 receptions, 1,342 yards and 11 TDs. And in eight seasons with the Falcons, Mathis would go on to average 72 catches, 919 yards and 7 TDs.
"He was a great route runner. He played in the league for so many years (13) and he knows what it takes," Stuckey said. "Once I'm training with him, I know what I need to do to be ready coming into training camp and then into the season."
There are some interesting parallels between Mathis and Stuckey. Mathis, who played at 5'10", 185-pounds, was a sixth-round pick of the Jets back in 1990 out of New Mexico. The 6'1", 190-pound Stuckey, a Clemson product, was a seventh-round pick of the Jets in 2007. And Stuckey — just like Mathis did throughout his wonderful pro career — uses tremendous quickness to separate from defensive backs.
"Stuckey just seems like he makes plays all the time every time he's in there," said Jets head coach Rex Ryan of Stuckey this spring.
Indeed Stuckey is silky smooth, but he also has become somewhat of an overlooked man. He caught 32 balls last season and was on the receiving end of a Brett Favre scoring pass in each of the Jets' first three games.
"I had limited opportunities and I think I did the best I could with what I had," he said. "I kind of showed the coaches that I can make some plays if given a chance."
When Laveranues Coles inked a free agent deal with the Cincinnati Bengals, Stuckey set his eyes on the starting vacancy opposite Jerricho Cotchery.
"A light bulb went off. It's an opportunity to go out there and show the coaches that they don't need anyone else," he said. "I'm here, I want to take that role on the team of playmaker and that's what I'm trying to do right now."
While more comfortable in the slot position, Stuckey worked diligently this offseason on taking his game to the next level out wide.
"You just have to get used to running those routes. Inside is something that's second nature to me," he said. "Outside is something that you have to really develop, you're seeing a lot of different things. They are kind of two different monsters.
"If you want to be a complete receiver, you have to be able to do both. You have to go outside and run a 6-route (curl), a 9-route (fly) and a post route and come inside and do your option work, your go routes and inside 6-routes. You want to have a nice repertoire with a lot of different things."
Stuckey's a bright player who started his college career at quarterback. That experience helps him get pre-snap reads and also a unique understanding of the defense.
"It's a great advantage. Sometimes I can see the blitz as well as Kellen [Clemens] or Mark [Sanchez] can see it, and I can know what they're going to do and be on the same page," he said. "Coach [Henry] Ellard and I talk about things like that, just seeing everything and knowing what's going on and making the game slow down for you."
After Stuckey's summer sessions with Mathis are complete, he'll return for training camp and more mentoring under Ellard. The first-year Jets' WR coach, who played 16 seasons himself and collected 814 receptions for 13,777 yards and 65 touchdowns, has already made a favorable impression on Stuckey in their short time together.
"He's great, he's been such a big help to me already as far as route running and understanding things and trusting the ability that I have," Stuck said of Ellard. "I have a lot of quickness, so I tend to do things real fast. He tells me to trust what I'm doing, that it's going to work. He tells me a lot of guys won't be able to get their hands on me."