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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets rookie Jace Amaro, one of the most prolific pass-catching tight ends in college history, has set high expectations for himself in the NFL. He hopes to be the next Tony Gonzalez.
"He's kind of old school, but he did some great things," the Jets' second-round pick said Friday of Gonzalez after his first rookie-camp practice. "I'd definitely like to (model) his game. ... That's someone who I'd ultimately love to be. He's supposedly the greatest tight end to ever play. That's somewhere where I want to be, too."
|New York Jets rookie tight end Jace Amaro says he wants to be the next Tony Gonzalez.|
Gonzalez wrapped up a Hall of Fame-caliber career last season with 1,325 receptions, the most by a tight end. Amaro acknowledged he has a lot to learn about the pro game, but he spoke confidently about his long-range potential. He'd like to catch 100 passes in a season, something Gonzalez did only once.
"Eventually, I'd like to do that on a consistent basis, be a tight end that catches 100 balls a year," said Amaro, who signed a four-year, $4.3 million contract before his first practice. "That might be five years from now, it might be 10. That's kind of a goal for me."
Amaro did it last season at Texas Tech, racking up 106 receptions for 1,352 yards -- an FBS yardage record for tight ends. The numbers might be inflated because he played in an up-tempo offense that averaged 55 pass attempts per game, but the Jets believe he has the talent to upgrade their 31st-ranked passing attack.
"A guy with that kind of size (6-foot-5, 265 pounds) and his kind of skills ... absolutely, he'll add to our passing game," coach Rex Ryan said. "Those guys are hard to cover."
Amaro caught several passes in the opening practice, prompting Ryan to say afterward, "Looks like Marty (Mornhinweg) thinks he has a new toy, and we're trying to feature him."
The Jets' offensive coordinator has a few new toys, namely wide receiver Eric Decker, running back Chris Johnson and quarterback Michael Vick, who will push Geno Smith for the starting job.
For Amaro, the key is relearning football fundamentals. Because he was often flexed out in the Texas Tech offense, he lined up in a three-point stance only about 15 percent of the time, according to his estimate. On Friday, he got a heavy dose of work in a three-point stance, but the plan is to make him a receiving tight end, complementing incumbent Jeff Cumberland.
Preparing for his final season at Texas Tech, Amaro said he studied "hours and hours" of tape of Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, trying to incorporate their techniques in his game.
For now, Amaro wants simply to earn the respect of his new teammates. Beyond that, he's thinking big.
"Ultimately, for me, the goal is to be the best player and win Rookie of the Year, be the best offensive player," he said. "If you don't have that mindset, you're not in it for the right reasons."
Amaro felt he should've been a first-round pick. Two tight ends were drafted ahead of him -- Eric Ebron and Austin Seferian-Jenkins -- and that chafes him, as well.
"It adds the same chip on my shoulder I had when I went from high school to college," he said. "To me, that's big. I'm holding it in -- I'm not really expressing about it -- but I think eventually people are going to realize it."