When the New York Jets signed LaRon Landry this offseason, they knew that the veteran safety would have to be handled with care.
Each of the last two seasons, Landry’s season has ended prematurely due to lingering Achilles tendon injuries that limited him to a total of just 17 games since the start of the 2010 season.
The Jets are taking it easy with the 27-year-old Landry, putting him on what the coaches have jokingly referred to as a “pitch count,” so that he can gradually work his way into the starting lineup in time for the regular season.
The hard part, however, is getting LaRon Landry to slow it down. He only knows one speed, and that’s all the way.
“Sometimes you have to protect them from themselves,” said Jets coach Rex Ryan. “That’s a guy that when you see him out there, that’s full speed.”
Listed at 6’0, 220 lbs, the 27-year-old Landry is an impressive physical specimen, and if he’s able to put his injury woes behind him, he’ll be a major upgrade to the back end of the Jets secondary.
“The first thing you look at, obviously, is the physical stature of him,” Ryan said. “But you forget the guy runs a 4.3. The makeup speed is phenomenal. That speed just jumps out at you. I know all the corners were excited.”
If he’s healthy, expect LaRon Landry to start at safety Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills, and hopefully every week throughout the season. In Ryan’s scheme, he has the potential to be a Pro Bowl-caliber player.
Right now, however, Landry and the Jets are just taking it one step at a time.
“Each and every day is progress,” Landry said.
A healthy LaRon Landry is a scary thing for opposing offenses to think about. Tightening up the back end of the secondary behind standout corners Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie would be huge for the Jets.
With Jim Leonhard gone, the Jets will be relying potentially on two new starters at the safety position with Landry and Yeremiah Bell, with veteran Eric Smith the only returning safety from last year.
LaRon Landry’s skill set makes him a dynamic player, and his health will be a huge X-factor for the Jets moving forward.
If Landry can stay on the field and perform at a high level, the Jets will have as formidable a defense as there is in football.
However, if the injury prone Landry has trouble playing at 100%, or playing at all for that matter, the same woes that plagued Ryan’s defense last year could rear their ugly head again.
That’s why the Jets are taking it slow with their new toy. He’s far too important to them to break, especially before they play any games that count.
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