If ever there was a situation tailor made for a breakout season, Kenrick Ellis in 2013 with the New York Jets would fit the bill. After some up and down play on the field and life away from football, Ellis appears ready to refocus this coming season.
That’s definitely good news for a Jets team that made several salary cap subtractions this offseason more out of desperation than by choice. One of those moves happened to occur at Ellis’ native position of nose tackle where Sione Pouha and his $6.2 million cap hit for 2013 were told to take a hike. After an injury-plagued year last season, Pouha became expendable at 34 years of age.
For Ellis this move means more playing time and a current spot atop the depth chart at the nose tackle position. His ability to play with a low center of gravity at 6’4” 346lbs. is quite impressive, as during his limited action in his first two NFL seasons Ellis has displayed flashes of dominance. He struggled staying healthy a year ago with recurring knee injuries that sidelined him for significant portions of 2012. Having a space eating nose tackle is vital in a 3-4 defense, and the Jets will need Ellis to stay healthy and on the field this coming season.
Battles in training camp with one of the best centers in the league in Nick Mangold will certainly be beneficial for Ellis. If he can refine his techniques and manage to stay healthy in the season ahead, the Jets have loads of potential on defense.
Ellis’ contributions to the Jets are unlikely to show up on the stat sheet, but in the film room on a week-to-week basis, the coaching staff will be sure to see his skills on display. Having a dominant nose tackle up front to keep the linebackers clean is critical to having success in a 3-4 alignment. Consistency will be key for Ellis as the Jets need to rely on their defense if Rex Ryan‘s squad hopes to make any noise worthwhile in 2013.