Spencer was a special teams stalwart
If you are familiar with the Jets core values, you know coach Eric Mangini wants players who not only work hard but are selfless. And when you think of selfless players, your mind tends to think about reserves holding critical roles. At linebacker, Brad Kassell, Cody Spencer and Anthony Schlegel each made his presence felt in 2006.
Kassell, who played his first four professional seasons in Tennessee, returned to Nashville in September and was named the team's "Special Teams Player of the Week" after recording three tackles against the Titans.
Four weeks later, Kassell made his first defensive start for the Jets on the road against the Jaguars, not recording any statistics. On the season he totaled 19 defensive tackles to go along with seven special teams stops.
"Brad has been a great addition to the team. He has all the qualities that we look for," said Mangini. "In researching him, there were several coaches who said he was their favorite player because of the way that he worked at practice, the way that he worked in the meeting rooms. He has a good presence about him. He's got that toughness, that country toughness."
Kassell, a North Texas product, is also a heady ballplayer. He played with a passion welcomed by the coach.
"He's gone in on special teams and done a great job there," said Mangini. "Anything we ask him to do, he just jumps in, volunteers for and is willing to do whatever we need him to do to help us win. I really like that."
Spencer was added to the mix at the close of the season's first quarter. He appeared in 12 games and was credited with 12 special teams tackles. Despite missing the season's first three games, Spencer still finished second on the team in special teams stops. He recorded a career-high four on kick coverage at Green Bay in December and was tabbed "Special Teams Player of the Week."
With the likes of Kassel and Spencer playing well, Anthony Schlegel was limited to only four games of duty. Schlegel, the club's third-round draft selection out of Ohio State last April, was highlighted for his practice performance in Game 3 and made his professional debut against the Bears in Game 10.
"I think that draft picks, the amount of money you make, any of that stuff doesn't matter," Mangini said during the year. "What matters is who can help us win that particular game and who gives us the best chance to win. Each week, as we put together the roster and you have seen the movement in the line-up with actives and inactive, it is based on who gives us the best chance to win."