Vernon Gholston's pact with the Jets was signed and sealed Thursday, and today the sixth overall pick delivered. Kind of.
The former Ohio State stalwart made his training camp debut Friday, participating in drills and taking about 40 snaps between the first and second defenses. Considered a linebacker/defensive end hybrid and lauded for his pass-rushing abilities, Gholston, who wore John Abraham's old No. 56, lined up at ROLB in the 3-4 alignments and shifted to right defensive end in the nickel packages.
"I was just trying to get my feet wet and catch up on some of the things I've missed," said Gholston, who recorded 14 sacks last season for the Buckeyes. "I probably took about half the snaps at end and half at linebacker."
On the field, in front of a large crowd of anxious fans, his performance was up and down. Calvin Pace, himself a pass-rushing OLB whom the Jets signed from the Cardinals, said the new guy appeared as he should — like a rookie on his first day.
"He looked like we looked yesterday," Pace joked. "He looked like he hadn't played football in six months. He's trying to get back in the swing of things and, at the same time, trying to adjust to the NFL. I've been there before and it's a strange feeling. You're up against guys you used to watch on TV and see in the video games. Mistakes are going to be made."
Added veteran DE Shaun Ellis, "He's learning. It was good to have him out there. When you're thrown in the fire, you've just got to go catch it on the fly. I'm pretty sure he'll adjust."
Gholston, on one play, demonstrated both his inexperience and evidence of why he is such a highly regarded prospect. On a handoff to Thomas Jones that went up the middle, he bit inside and led himself into the block of a guard. "I was late to react on that," Gholston admitted.
But he quickly disengaged from the block, spun left and wrapped up, holding Jones to a short gain. That is an example of an abundance of athleticism compensating for a lack of experience.
Ainge's Long Hours
Erik Ainge did fairly well in the drills. The rookie quarterback throws a tight spiral, has impressive velocity and was accurate with most of his throws.
One thing's for sure: He doesn't mind putting in extra time. On Thursday, about an hour before the afternoon session, he was the first player on the field, throwing passes into the net. The net, which has three red pockets for balls, is used in drills to work on accuracy.
The Jets' offensive system is much more complex than what he'd run in college, Ainge said, and he believes he has to put in extra work to catch up with the veterans.
"I'm not going to get as many reps as someone like Chad," said Ainge, who quarterbacked the fourth team. "So I have to make up for it by coming out and getting extra work in."