It would have been easy for ArDarius Stewart to view the spring as a setback. After being selected in third round out of Alabama, the rookie injured his thumb at rookie minicamp and subsequently had surgical procedures on both his thumb and his groin. But Stewart remained upbeat despite missing all of the Jets' OTA and minicamp workouts.
"It's not frustrating at all. I'm built for this," he said before the team broke for the summer. "Stuff like this doesn't faze me, really. I just try to take everything and change it to a positive. This is just a job for me to get back out there."
A first-team All-SEC selection last season, Stewart caught 54 balls for 864 yards and eight touchdowns for the Crimson Tide. Todd Bowles said the Jets were proactive with Stewart's groin surgery because the ailment had lingered in the past.
"I'm just trying to bring a load of energy to my teammates and just make sure I do what I can from the sideline," Stewart said of his spring work. "I just pay attention, get all the reps I can mentally and it's pretty good. I've been in these shoes before and I just have to be mentally strong. I'm just ready to get back for camp."
In 27 career games at 'Bama, the 5'11", 204-pound Stewart hauled in 117 receptions for 1,564 yards with 12 scores.
"When I went to see him workout, his route running was a lot better than it showed on film because they only did certain things," Bowles said of Stewart after the Draft "He caught the ball well with his hands and he's explosive with the ball in his hands. He's tough, he brings a lot of attitude to the game and he plays it the right way. We really thought he could help us."
Transitioning from an attack that featured Brandon Marshall the past two years, the Jets are learning a new offense under offensive coordinator John Morton. Stewart believes his experience with former Alabama OC Lane Kiffin will help him learn Morton's West Coast concepts.
"Coach Kiffin did a lot of things and I had to make a lot of adjustments on my part," Stewart said. "When things change like the defense, I just switch some things up. It's a lot of different terminology I have to pick up. The routes are the same, it's just the wording."
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Stewart, who planned on saying up in New Jersey this summer to get treatment, is expected back for training camp.
"You're going to determine the men from the boys then and who has that dog, that fight," he said. "When those pads come on, it's a whole different story. You're going to have contact and see how you react to it."
Stewart is known for his physicality, a receiver looking for YAC and a guy willing to block on the outside. On the mend, he is looking forward to mixing it up for his first time as a pro.
"That's me all the way, 100%," he said. "That's Stew Stew."