If it seems strange for the Jets to see someone other than D’Brickashaw Ferguson playing left tackle, Ryan Clady said the feeling is mutual.
“It’s definitely different here in New York,” the former Broncos All-Pro stalwart said Sunday after the third day of practices in training camp. “It’s just now starting not to be weird, because I had been out in Denver for eight years and that was all I knew. It’s been a transition.”
Transition and adjustment continue to be the words of the day for Clady, who not only is getting used to a new team on the other side of the country but also trying to come back from a torn ACL that cost him the entire 2015 season.
While trading for a player who has missed 30 games the past three seasons due to injury might not seem ideal, the Jets didn’t have much choice after Ferguson surprised them by retiring after 10 years.
If Clady can get back to the form that saw the former first-round pick out of Boise State voted to the Pro Bowl four times in his first seven seasons, the move to send a fifth-round pick to Denver for Clady and a seventh rounder will go down as a stroke of genius by Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan.
But with no proven backups behind Clady, the Jets are walking a high wire without much of a net at a crucial position.
“He’s moving well [and] running around well,” coach Todd Bowles said when asked his impression of Clady. “Out of pads, he looks pretty good.”
Clady admitted his health remains “a work in progress.”
“But I feel like I’m doing pretty well,” Clady said. “It’s the dog days of camp, so there’s a little soreness. But it’s just something I’ve got to grind through.”
Although Clady made the Pro Bowl in his most recent full season two years ago, scouts say the 6-foot-6, 316-pound blocker hasn’t been the same dominant player since suffering a Lisfranc injury that cost him all but two games in 2013.
Clady had been an iron man for the Broncos until that injury, not missing a single game his first five seasons. But as his injuries mounted and Denver signed former Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung in March, Clady became expendable.
Clady says he prefers to consider the Broncos’ decision to deal him as strictly money-related, especially with the defending Super Bowl champions needing cap room to sign Von Miller to his recent record-breaking contract extension.
“It was a situation where they paid me a lot of money and wanted something cheaper, especially since they had to pay Von and some other guys,” Clady said Sunday. “It is what it is. It’s part of the game nowadays. They pack the money on the back end of most of these deals so they can ship you on out.
“Not every player gets to play somewhere 10-12 years,” Clady added. “That doesn’t really happen much anymore.”
Being traded by the Broncos wasn’t just another bittersweet moment for Clady, coming so soon after he had to watch as Denver won the Super Bowl without him.
Clady had a sideline spot for the Broncos’ 24-10 win over the Panthers in Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, Calif., but he was in street clothes.
“Yeah, it was tough,” Clady said of having to miss the Super Bowl. “No question. You want to contribute with your teammates and be a part of the greatness.”
Denver is in his rearview mirror now, though, and Clady — while not exactly giving his landing spot a ringing endorsement just yet — said that is fine with him.
“Yeah, I’m happy to be here,” Clady said. “I feel like it’s a good spot for me. I’ve kind of known for a while this could be a possibility coming into this offseason, so it wasn’t like it was a huge surprise. It’s just a matter of adjusting to a new environment.”
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