FLORHAM PARK, NJ (AP) — Kwon Alexander flew around the field, making plays and popping pads in his first practice with the New York Jets.
“It felt legendary, man,” the veteran linebacker said with a smile on Monday.
And it was certainly a solid first impression for Alexander, who had told his trainers about him.
“He’s awesome,” said defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbricht. “He’s got this infectious energy about himself, he’s got an edge from it. He has the ability to lift those around him.
“So to have that type of person in the building is awesome. It will make us better at behavior. It will make us better at meetings. It will make us better on Sundays eventually.”
Ulbricht was then asked whether the jets lacked the kind of stern approach that Alexander provides on defence. He found a creative way to describe the tenacious and ultra-competitive linebacker’s final Friday signing, using a drink comparison that attracted some laughs.
“I don’t know if it was necessarily missing, but it’s always good to add it,” Ulbricht said. “The more people you like, the better. I always say, like, Coke is really good, you know? But a little bit of Coke is even better, right? You know what I say am I?”
In other words, Sikander adds a little twist to the defence. And it was a refreshing feeling to be on the field again.
“To get back under my feet, to be out with the team,” said Alexander, “I enjoyed it.”
And it showed.
In the first padded practice of the Jets’ training camp, well, Kwon’s rage as Alexander made his presence felt — and heard. He slammed into Ty Johnson to stop him running back to the goal line on a play. Alexander later stood rookie running behind Zonovan Knight to set off some big cheers from the defense.
“He did what Kwon does and made sure the other side of the ball knew about it,” said coach Robert Saleh. “He brought everyone to life.”
This happened when Saleh wasn’t expecting Sikandar to be in practice-ready shape—both physically and mentally—after being signed so quickly. Newly signed players usually have a longer period of adaptation.
“They were wondering, am I going to get ready, and I did all the exercises and stuff,” said a smiling Alexander. “I asked him to raise it a little more. I was ready to go.”
Alexander spent part of the previous season and 2020 with New Orleans after 1 1/2 years in San Francisco with Saleh as their defensive coordinator. A fourth-round pick by Tampa Bay from LSU in 2015, Alexander made a Pro Bowl appearance in the third of his four seasons with the Buccaneers.
With the Jets, he falls into a familiar defensive scheme and his ability to play at various positions on the linebacker made him an attractive target for New Yorkers. Alexander, who also spoke to the Saints and Giants, remained an unsigned free agent until last week despite his ability and reputation to play as a leader. But he may not necessarily be using it as additional motivation.
“Whenever I come on the field, I have a chip on my shoulder,” he said. “I try to be the best that I can be. For me, I just have to go. Once I keep going, it’s going to be hard for me to stop. That’s what I set out to do.”
And the Jets – and a lot of their fans – will definitely drink it.
“Everyone brought me here with open arms,” Alexander said, “and I love them for that.”
Comments: RB Tevin Coleman (non-COVID illness) did some running on the sidelines during practice and Saleh said “he is close” to being activated from the non-football injury list. “We should bring him back this week,” Saleh said. “Hopefully soon.” … LT George Fant is still being ruled out of team practice as he continues to return from off-season arthroscopic knee surgery.
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