Rex to Jace Amaro: Watch Ditka tapes

August, 9, 2014
8/09/14
5:45
PM ET
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- New York Jets rookies Jace Amaro and Dexter McDougle, the team’s second-round and third-round picks, are experiencing growing pains in their first NFL training camp.

Even though Amaro caught two passes in the preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts, he was gently criticized by Rex Ryan, who believes Amaro should have caught two more by being aggressive when the ball was in the air. Ryan even referenced Hall of Fame tight end Mike Ditka as someone the young tight end should emulate.

“Give him tapes of Mike Ditka or something and say, ‘This is how we want you to play,’” Ryan said Saturday. “Recognize you’re a big guy. You need to be a bully out there. When that ball’s thrown up, you’ve got to go catch it. I don’t care where it is.”

Amaro, a 6-foot-5, 265-pound tight end drafted to add another dimension to the offense, could learn a lot from Ditka, who revolutionized the position with his receiving skills, but also was a fierce blocker.

No one doubts the receiving skills of the former Texas Tech stadnout, who caught 106 passes for 1,352 yards with seven touchdowns last season, but his ability to grasp the offense and block NFL linemen are works in progress.

McDougle, too, has experienced some difficulties -- specifically, he weight. He reported to camp overweight, Ryan revealed. McDougle is listed as 195 pounds on the roster; it's not clear what his current weight is. Ryan declined to say whether the rookie was fined.

Ryan said McDougle “needs to get in NFL shape.” He went on to say how it is unusual for a cornerback to be overweight, and that he has to “get down a little bit more.”

After suffering a shoulder injury in his senior season at Maryland that forced him to miss the final nine games, McDougle has been working mainly with the second-team defense in training camp. On Saturday he practiced with the starters, replacing the injured Dimitri Patterson.

McDougle attributed his slow start to shoulder surgery, and that he needed to shake off the rust and get up to speed. Against the Colts, he committed a pass-interference penalty. McDougle believes he was holding his position, but acknowledged the newly emphasized contact rule is “something I have to work on in practice and continue to get better at.”

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