As the New York Jets prepare for the upcoming season, offensive lineman Ryan Clady may have been forgotten in the past but is back ready to prove he’s still capable of being a consistent starter.
“A minor setback paves the way for a major comeback”. For offensive tackle Ryan Clady, this should be his motto for the upcoming season. Clady was drafted 12th overall in the 2008 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He made four Pro Bowls and was a 1st-team All-Pro twice through his first five seasons.
Clady first missed the majority of 2013 with a Lisfranc (major foot) injury, but he proved that he has the ability to bounce back, as he made the 2014 Pro-Bowl the next season. Then, he watched Denver win Super Bowl 50 from the sidelines after suffering a torn ACL before the season. But this time, there was no second chance, as the Broncos wasted no time this offseason in signing Russell Okung of Seattle, signaling to Clady that his tenure in the Mile High is over. And after a trade to the Jets in April, now comes a new journey for Clady in New York.
Last season, Jets’ general manager Mike Maccagnan started revitalizing the franchise that John Idzik almost tore to shreds. He made trades for wide receiver Brandon Marshall and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, two forces in the Jets’ offense, that cost him just two late-round draft picks.
So once long-time Jet D’Brickashaw Ferguson abruptly announced his retirement, Maccagnan reeled in Clady in an effort to sustain the line and keep the offense running smoothly. Despite the numerous honors and awards thus far in Clady’s young career, the multiple injuries are a big concern for any athlete. And just to add to the pressure, Clady is replacing the “iron man” in Ferguson, who didn’t miss a practice in 10 years, much less a single game.
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Clady will be joining center Nick Mangold on the line, a man whose work ethic speaks volumes and who leads this team like no other individual in the league.
However, this isn’t the first time the two are playing beside each other, as they did on the Pro Bowl team multiple times.
“The Pro Bowl is not as intense as regular football, but there’s still a certain way you go about your business and the way you go about your craft,” Mangold said regarding Clady, per Manish Mehta of the Daily News.
“Watching him there, you could tell that there was something special about him. So when we traded for him, I was excited about it and excited about the opportunity to work with another top caliber guy.”
He has been working extra hard to get in sync with Mangold and left guard James Carpenter, both on and off the field.
One of the hardest things to do in sports is replacing a “fan-favorite”, someone who the city respects and have adored for such a long time. In New York sports especially, this is something they have become accustomed to.
Feb 3, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Jets player D’Brickashaw Ferguson sits court side during the game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
In the city that never sleep, the New York Rangers hung up the #9 Mark Messier jersey in the rafters years ago, after he spent 10 seasons with the team. In the Bronx, the Yankees’ fans had to say farewell to Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter after spending 19 and 20 seasons with the team, respectively.
And here at MetLife Stadium, the Jets had to wave goodbye to Ferguson after his 10 season tenure with the team. But the Jets players certainly have confidence that the transition won’t be difficult, as Clady has proven his talent in the past.
“Technicians. They’re always in the right place, know exactly what they’re doing. You can count on them. They’re dependable. Hopefully, he bounces back well. He’s been out awhile. He’s knocking that rust off and he’ll be able to play at that Pro Bowl level that he has,” wide receiver Brandon Marshall, said, per Brian Costello of the New York Post, comparing Clady to Ferguson.
This season, Clady will certainly be playing with a chip on his shoulder. After being eased in during offseason workouts, Clady has been a full participant in practice throughout training camp and is ready for opening day kickoff.
“A lot of this game is about pride and respect. That’s what some guys play for, outside of money and whatnot. It’s a great motivator, I feel like. I definitely feel that. It’s one of the things that’s driving me, to prove those guys in Colorado wrong,” Clady said, per Dennis Waszak Jr. of the Associated Press.