Saturday, August 14, 2010
Conner puts Ryan, teammates in a daze
By Tim Graham
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan looked forward to seeing young linebacker Joshua Mauga play in Monday night's preseason opener.
Fifth-round draft pick John Conner has impressed his coaches and may become a hit with fans.
Ryan won't get that chance. Mauga is out with a concussion.
"The Terminator got one," Ryan said Saturday morning. "The way he hits, it's going to happen."
Rookie fullback John Conner is "The Terminator," one of the most perfect nicknames in sports. He shares the same name as the freedom-fighting protagonist in "The Terminator" movies. Conner also happens to snuff folks.
"My mentality," Conner said, "is to attack and win."
Conner's supposed to eliminate the competition, but in a training-camp setting he'll occasionally take out a teammate or two.
"It was a great collision, but it's an unfortunate consequence," Ryan said of Friday's crash into Mauga. "This guy's going to knock out a bunch of guys. It's not just going to be our guys."
We might be witnessing the emergence of a folk hero.
The season premiere of HBO's "Hard Knocks" seemed to set up Conner's arrival as series-long storyline. He'll compete with esteemed veteran and locker-room leader Tony Richardson, who's entering his 16th season.
Ryan calls Conner "my draft pick" (fifth round out of Kentucky) and was shown raving about him on "Hard Knocks" in such a way that makes you wonder if it's a foregone conclusion Richardson will receive his termination papers.
The fearless style Conner plays with on offense and special teams certainly will endear him to Jets fans.
ESPNNewYork.com reporter Rich Cimini recently asked Conner what it would be like for him to block himself.
"I've thought about that a lot," Conner replied. "I've wondered what it would be like, going against me. All I can say is, there would be a big collision."
On a draw play Thursday, he delivered a blow to linebacker Kenwin Cummings that Ryan called the best hit of camp.
"Whew, he smoked him," Ryan said. "This kid's got a talent for running through people."