HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -Ahmad Carroll was living the NFL dream a few years ago.
The defensive back was a first-round pick for Green Bay, a speedy and exciting player who had the big paychecks to match his lofty draft status.
Then, he threw it all away because of inconsistency and immaturity.
``You live and learn, man,'' Carroll said Saturday, his eyes focused and his tone genuine.
Out of the league last season, a humbled Carroll is trying to make it back with the New York Jets just four years after being the 25th overall pick in the 2004 draft.
``It's a last chance,'' Carroll said after the Jets' morning practice. ``Anytime you step on the field, it could be your last chance playing. Whether it's the Arena Football League or the NFL, whatever, you've just got to take every snap and every read that you see as your last play because, really, anything can happen.''
Carroll, who turns 25 in two weeks, speaks from experience. He played this year in the Arena Football League with the Orlando Predators after being waived by Jacksonville in May 2007, two days after he was arrested on weapon and drug charges.
``I said to myself that if I ever got another opportunity, I was going to prepare myself and watch extra film and just really learn the game before I stepped out on the field,'' he said.
Carroll has lots of competition in camp at cornerback, with Darrelle Revis, Justin Miller, David Barrett, Drew Coleman, Hank Poteat, Andre Woolfolk and rookie Dwight Lowery also at the position.
``They just wanted me to come in and compete,'' Carroll said, ``and be the athlete they, you know, said I once was.''
Carroll came to Green Bay with high expectations bestowed upon him after he was drafted out of Arkansas. He enthralled the Packers with his speed and playmaking ability, but also frustrated them with his penchant for penalties.
He started 11 of 14 games as a rookie, but the Packers made him wear boxing gloves in practice at one point to try to eliminate his habit of grabbing receivers. There was more of the same penalty problems the following season, despite starting every game.
It all came to a head against Philadelphia in Week 4 of the 2006 season, when he broke up three passes and had a sack, but also got burned for two touchdowns, was flagged for pass interference and called for holding. He was waived a day later.
``It was just me not approaching the game at a high professional level,'' he said. ``In the meeting room, I was kind of wanting to just get out of there and breathe a little. You have to approach it like you're playing in the Super Bowl every week. I don't think I was doing a good job of that.''
Carroll signed with Jacksonville a week after being cut, but played in just one game for the Jaguars. Then, he got himself into more trouble - off the field.
On May 5, 2007, Carroll was arrested in Atlanta and charged with carrying a weapon without a license, possession of drugs and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He was later released on a $7,000 bond. Jacksonville waived him two days later.
``It was a big mistake,'' he said. ``It feels like that's all way behind me now. My dad always told me, 'Don't ever put your head down. Approach it like a man and learn from it.' Because of all that, I'm just happy to be out here in training camp.''
The Jets, who signed Carroll shortly before camp opened, brought him in for a visit in December and liked what they saw on the field in the Arena Football League. Carroll racked up 68 tackles, two touchdowns off fumble recoveries and had an interception while starting 15 of 16 games for the Predators.
``He was available, he was in the Arena League, he was playing there and I liked the things on tape there,'' coach Eric Mangini said. ``I'm learning the rules of the Arena League and it looks pretty fun, but I can tell if you can hit and tackle and run and cover. Those things are apparent.''
The Jets are confident Carroll's legal troubles are far behind him, and are hoping his penalty problems on the field are also a thing of the past.
``He's a physical guy, a physical corner, and you don't want to take away from that element, the aggressiveness, the competitiveness, the physical nature,'' Mangini said. ``You need to have all those traits, but play the technique better.''
Three days into camp, Carroll is thoroughly embracing perhaps his final chance in the NFL.
``I feel real good, man,'' he said. ``It's just like being in school. You go back to your dorm room, look over your playbook before you go to bed, get your good night's rest and call your mom and everything. It's not too hard. I'd say it's pretty good.''

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