- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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"I think it's going to be a big year for me," the rush linebacker said Monday, channeling his inner Rex Ryan.
Coples said he's not worried about Babin taking his starting job. That's cool, because Babin doesn't want it. He's quite content in his role as a pass-rushing specialist. This became an issue over the weekend, when Babin replaced Coples in the second quarter and played twice as many snaps (31 to 15) as the former first-round pick. On Monday, Babin continued to see some action with the first unit, as did Coples.
Rex Ryan said Babin, 34, whom the Jets signed on the eve of training camp, will get spot duty with the starters, but he downplayed the possibility of an outright lineup change.
"I wanted to get Jason some snaps with the (starters), and he's going to be playing with those guys," Ryan said. "We said from Day 1, we brought him in here to play, not just stand on the sideline. He's going to play for us and so is Coples. We'll work it out, but I wouldn't read into it as if he's going to replace Coples as a starter. That's not it."
Of course, the benefit of having a proven player like Babin is that he can push Coples, who didn't exactly take the league by storm in his first two seasons -- only 10 sacks. Sure, he posted a team-high 50 quarterback hurries last season, but Michael Strahan didn't "hurry" his way to the Hall of Fame. The best pass-rushers record ... you know, sacks.
Coples understands this. He dropped 15 pounds in the offseason (he's down to 270) and he tweaked his get-off technique, meaning he's exploding faster out of his three-point stance than he did last season.
"That's one of the reasons why I lost the weight and worked on my get-off, so I can turn those hurries into sacks," he said. "I can tell the difference already."
Coples is one of those players that needs an occasional kick in the rear. In the past, the coaches called him out, suggesting he needed to work harder. But now there's legitimate competition at the rush-linebacker spot even though Babin said he's not looking to become an every-down player at this stage of his career.
"If that's what they need me to do, I'd do it," he said. "But I don't envision that as a necessary need."
Babin considers himself in a "you-never-know" situation. He's getting first-team reps in the base defense because you never know what might happen. He's also trying to get accustomed to playing as a stand-up player, which is often required of the rush linebacker in the Jets' 3-4 base.