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Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Sources: Gholston working on D-line

By Rich Cimini
Special to ESPNNewYork.com

The Jets' acquisition of Jason Taylor Tuesday is a tacit admission the organization has lost hope for Vernon Gholston. In fact, Gholston's days as a rush linebacker appear over.

After mulling the move for weeks, the Jets are leaning heavily toward making Gholston a full-time defensive end, league sources told ESPNNewYork.com. The former first-round pick has been working out with the defensive linemen for weeks, sources said, and now the Taylor signing all but clinches it. The team will wait to see how things shake out in the draft before making it permanent.

Gholston, the sixth overall choice in 2008, was drafted to play outside linebacker in the base defense and rush the quarterback on passing downs. But he has yet to record a sack in two seasons, earning the "bust" label. He's entering the middle year of a five-year contract that pays him $21 million in guarantees, arguably the worst money the Jets ever spent.

Rex Ryan inherited Gholston from the previous coaching staff, promising big things for the former Ohio State standout. It was one of the few bold predictions that Ryan failed to deliver.

The move to defensive end means Gholston is one step closer to the door. In Ryan's 3-4 scheme, the end is a non-glamour position. The ends have a two-gap responsibility, tying up blockers so the linebackers can make the plays. It's believed that Gholston will serve as Shaun Ellis' backup.

Ryan, speaking Tuesday night to reporters, said he plans to use Taylor, Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas in a rotation as outside linebacker. He never mentioned Gholston. Ryan wants to keep his pass rushers fresh for the fourth quarter, with the hope of avoiding some of the late-game meltdowns that almost ruined the Jets in 2009.

Rich Cimini is special to ESPNNewYork.com.