Jamie Thompson on the Amsterdam Admirals
This is the third of a four-part series on the four Jets participating in NFL Europa this spring.
The New York Jets' safety position is getting as crowded as Amsterdam's inner-city roads and canals during morning deliveries.
There are last year's starters, Erik Coleman and Kerry Rhodes. Eric Smith and Rashad Washington got some significant playing time behind them and in the sub defenses. Leonard Peters came in as an undrafted free agent and Ray Ventrone came aboard after the Patriots waived him.
And let's not forget about Jamie Thompson.
"Basically, what I'm trying to do is go out and play hard every down I get," Thompson, the Amsterdam Admirals safety, told newyorkjets.com. "So far, things are going all right."
You could say that. Thompson, despite still getting his timing back from a foot injury he sustained last year after he was activated by the Jets, has started all seven games at free safety for Amsterdam. And he continues to lead the Admirals in tackles with 36, adding four more in the 30-7 home loss to the Cologne Centurions that dropped them to 3-4 over the weekend.
"My best game? I would have to say a couple of weeks ago at Hamburg," Thompson reflected. "I think I had a pretty good game there — eight tackles, a forced fumble that I recovered."
The takeaway came at the Sea Devils' 31, starting the Admirals to their first touchdown of the game in the 17-14 loss.
Being overlooked and getting dealt an occasional bad hand has never seemed to get Thompson down. He took a JuCo detour out of high school, attending Butler (Kans.) Community College for a year before moving on to three solid seasons of football at Oklahoma State.
Suffering from the flu at the Cowboys' Pro Day last year, he went undrafted, so he climbed aboard head coach Eric Mangini's first Jets team. He was on the practice squad all season until he was signed to the active roster and made his NFL debut in Game 13 vs. the Bills.
When secondary coach Corwin Brown left the Jets after the season to become Notre Dame's defensive coordinator and Mike MacIntyre replaced him, Thompson knew he had to start all over again with MacIntyre and assistant secondary coach Jerome Henderson, beginning with his stint in Europe.
"That's what you have to do when someone new comes in," he said. "Talking with Coach Henderson before I left, he just said go over there, show what you can do, try to stay healthy — I had a couple of problems last season with the Jets — and work on your slot coverages and tight end coverages."
Thompson's been following that advice in the laid-back Dutch atmosphere. He's not in the middle of the traffic but rather on the western side of town, where cars compete more with bicyclists and joggers and the big tourist attractions aren't beer gardens but flower gardens.
"I kind of like to relax and not go out much," he said.
All the while, Thompson is focused. He's walking a tightrope, trying to play his foot and his game into shape with his 10 games as an Admiral before taking a brief rest and getting back into it with another Mangini training camp.
"Tired? I've heard that from players who've been over here a few years, but I have to experience it myself," he said. "I know I have a job to do."