Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Looking for the next 'Snacks'
By Rich Cimini
The great thing about football -- and sports in general -- is that occasionally a player comes along that wasn't supposed to make it. We're talking about the guy that confounds the draft experts and the scouts, the guy that arrives through the back door and never leaves the party.
The New York Jets had a player like that last year, nose tackle Damon Harrison, who made the team as an undrafted rookie in 2012 and won a starting job a year later. At this time last year, no one knew anything about him other than his classic nickname -- "Big Snacks."
Will there be a "Big Snacks" in 2014? We examine five possibilities:
Rontez Miles, safety: He was undrafted out of California (Pa.) in 2013, spending last season on the practice squad. Miles is a poor man's Calvin Pryor, a vicious hitter with keen instincts. He underwent hip surgery after the season and he's just starting to round into shape. Look for him to make a move in training camp.
T.J. Barnes, defensive tackle: At 6-foot-7, 360 pounds, he's so big that you need a GPS to find your way around him. Barnes, undrafted out of Georgia Tech in 2013, spent most of last season on the practice squad after getting cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He worked with the second-team defense in minicamp.
Colin Anderson, tight end: He made a couple of plays in minicamp. At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, he's definitely more of a receiver than a blocker. He came out of Furman, undrafted, and was cut by the Minnesota Vikings. He spent last season on the Jets' practice squad. Anderson is a direct descendant of Gen. Robert C. Anderson, who was captain and in command of the Union forces at Fort Sumter at the start of the Civil War.
Dalton Freeman, center: Another former practice-squadder, Freeman won't play unless something happens to Nick Mangold -- and that wouldn't be a good thing. Freeman is smart and durable, and it doesn't hurt that he was a free agent from Clemson, where Rex Ryan's youngest son goes to school.
Jeremy Reeves, cornerback: Dude is small, only 5-foot-8, 156 pounds, but he can cover. He went undrafted out of Iowa State in 2013 because he tore a pectoral muscle a month before the draft, but he performed at the school's 2014 pro day and impressed the Jets' scouts. As the lottery folks say, hey, you never know.