Two years after Gholston dazzled scouts here at the NFL scouting combine and soared up the Jets' draft board, head coach Rex Ryan agreed that this would be a make-or-break season for the invisible outside linebacker.
A reporter asked Ryan if 2010 would be a "make or break for [Gholston]. The third year, if he's not doing then, you pretty much have to move on?"
"That's an accurate statement," Ryan said. "Generally, by the third year, you've got to see a guy really making strides. I expect Vernon to really make strides this year."
Then again, Ryan made similar statements from the same podium last year in Lucas Oil Stadium. Ryan, new to the job, declared he would make Gholston his pet project.
Of the 23 Jets to record a tackle in Gholston's rookie season, he had the fewest with six total and one solo. He didn't record a sack.
Under Ryan's command, Gholston improved nominally despite starting three games. Gholston made 14 tackles, nine of them solos. He has yet to record his first NFL sack despite his reputation as a pass-rush specialist at Ohio State.
"That's still a work in progress," Ryan said. "But I will say this: When we're going back and looking at our [film], this young man deserves a better chance than we're giving him. We need to give him more playing time. ... We've got to get him in a rotation, playing more in our nickel packages and things like that."
"You're waiting to see him come around," Ryan said. "I have Aubrayo Franklin ... I've had players that take a little time. You know he's got it in him. You've got to be patient.
"He is entering his third year right now, so I think it's more incomplete right now. I can't say that I was right about thinking that he'd make an impact [in 2009] because the impact wasn't there last year. But I think it's a matter of time before we start seeing this young man do some things for us."