Chansi Stuckey during a game vs. FSU
Chansi Stuckey played most of the last season in the slot for the Jets, catching passes from Brett Favre and even becoming the first Jets player in more than 20 years to score a TD in his NFL debut.
This year, regardless of who wins the quarterback competition, Stuckey is looking to produce like he did early on last season.
"Whatever QB is in there, my job is to catch the ball," said Stuckey after Wednesday's practice.
He caught 32 passes for 359 yards in 2008, including three touchdowns in his first three NFL games, becoming the third player to achieve that milestone since WRs André Davis and Donté Stallworth did it in 2002.
Some thought he faded out as the Jets did to end the season and isn't cut out for a starting role. Stuckey's not worried about all the naysayers. Instead, he's focused on producing when it matters.
"Talk is talk. They can talk all they want," he said, "but you have to do your playing on the field, so when the season comes all we are trying to do is come out and win games."
Stuckey is in position in training camp to play for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart, although it's unknown how he'll be used. He spent most of last season as the third receiver in the slot behind Laveranues Coles, now with the Bengals, and Jerricho Cotchery.
"Every year you have to take your game to a new level," Stuckey said. "I'm just trying to do the outside as well as still doing the inside stuff and be a versatile receiver."
To prepare himself for a more adaptable workload, Stuckey worked with former Jets receiver Terance Mathis in his home state of Georgia in the off-season. Mathis was also a multitalented receiver, playing in the slot and sometimes as the feature receiver during his 13-year NFL career.
"I picked up a bunch of things as far as route-running and body language and little tricks of the trade that I learned from him that are going to be very useful this season," Stuckey said.
One trait that can't be taught, but something a player instinctively has, is heart and determination.
In Thursday's Green vs. White Scrimmage, Stuckey demonstrated such fortitude and refusal to go down. In the "second half" he made a short catch along the middle and kept digging his feet in the dirt while carrying several Jets first-team defensive players. The play resulted in a first down as Stuckey accumulated at least 5 yards after the catch.
Utilizing Mathis' pointers and his own willpower on the field, those are some of the things that will impress first-year Jets wide receivers coach Henry Ellard as training camp wears on. The former Rams standout as a coach and player will have plenty of guidance to help the talented receiver along.
Ellard caught 814 passes for 13,777 yards in his 16-year career, and coached the likes of Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt with the Rams.
"He lets you figure out a lot of things on your own and then he coaches you," Stuckey said. "Me being a young guy — it's only my third year — I look to him for a lot of wisdom. Every question I have, he always has an answer for it or an example that he's had in his playing years."
Stuckey hopes to play a number of years himself, but in the meantime he's happy about the situation he's in and the opportunity that he's been given.
"I definitely feel like I'm blessed with this opportunity, to be here in Cortland and to be playing in the NFL. Only so many people get a chance to do this and I definitely appreciate where I am at right now."
He expresses a lot of sayings on his Twitter account as a motivational tool for himself and anyone else who could use a little encouragement. One such saying:
*Being blessed and being blessed and realizing it are totally different things. Be happy with what you have but always try to better yourself *
"I'm just very humble. When I have something I just try to say it sometimes," he said. "A lot of people are going through a lot of different things and maybe someone who reads it, it brightens up their day a little bit."