|Speedy Stuckey trying to catch on as playmaking receiver for Jets|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 12 August 2007 14:05|
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -Chansi Stuckey pulled his jersey and pads over his head and walked over to the crowded bleachers. A few dozen New York Jets fans were waiting after practice for their favorite players to sign hats, footballs and anything else they could get their hands on.|
``Chansi! Chansi!'' a few young fans shouted. ``Over here!''
After one solid preseason game, people already know who Stuckey is - even without his No. 83 jersey on. They might also get used to seeing the rookie wide receiver making plays on the field for the Jets.
``Well, we have great fans,'' Stuckey said Sunday. ``I'm just happy to be a part of it.''
Stuckey could become a bigger piece of the Jets' offense if he keeps making the type of plays he made in New York's 31-16 victory over Atlanta on Friday. He had three catches for 20 yards, including an impressive 13-yard touchdown grab on a pass from Kellen Clemens.
``It was almost surreal,'' Stuckey said with a smile. ``Being a rookie and being blessed enough to make it that far and to have an opportunity to play in the game was just great.''
Early in the second half, the 6-foot Stuckey outjumped 5-10 rookie defensive back Tony Franklin in the corner of the end zone and made sure he held onto the ball as he fell - with Franklin trying to rip it out of his hands.
``Kellen just gave me an opportunity to make a play,'' Stuckey said. ``I got lucky and was able to hold onto it, so that's about the gist of it. I jumped up and got lucky.''
The grab also drew what passes for high praise from coach Eric Mangini.
``Chansi made a really nice catch on the fade that Kellen threw to him,'' Mangini said. ``He did a pretty good job running the routes.''
Stuckey was at it again Sunday, making a nice move on defensive back Rayshaun Kizer and catching a pass from Clemens before zigzagging his way into the end zone on the last 11-on-11 play of practice.
``Once again, Kellen and the line did a great job and I got behind the guy,'' Stuckey said. ``Kellen gave me a throw and I just adjusted to the ball the best I could and I was able to catch it.''
Stuckey has been quick to give credit to others during training camp, but that humble approach surely stems from overcoming a painful period of tough luck on the field.
Stuckey, the first Tigers player since 1940 to score a touchdown by pass, rush, punt return and reception, had a nagging left ankle injury as a sophomore, a concussion as a junior, and a thumb injury and broken right foot that sidelined him for three games as a senior.
The foot injury sapped some of the speed that made Stuckey such a dangerous weapon for the Tigers. Despite finishing sixth in Clemson history with 141 receptions and eighth with 1,760 yards receiving, Stuckey fell to the seventh round of the draft.
``I just wanted to be in a camp,'' Stuckey said, recalling his thoughts during the draft. ``At this point, I'm in a camp and I just want to be here to stay and just try to feel out the situation.''
The Jets are hoping Stuckey sticks as one of the draft's biggest steals. He's competing with veteran Frisman Jackson and second-year player Wallace Wright for the fifth receiver spot, behind Laveranues Coles, Jerricho Cotchery, Justin McCareins and Brad Smith.
``Those guys have been competing extremely hard and they're all trying to carve out not just a role as a receiver, but their special teams slot,'' Mangini said.
Playing in Stuckey's favor is that he has extra value as a punt and kickoff returner, a role he excelled in in college.
``My whole approach to the situation is, it's a game you've been playing your whole life. You've been blessed enough to make it this far, just work hard and you'll get where you want to be,'' Stuckey said.
The speedy Stuckey, whose roommate as a freshman at Clemson was Jets cornerback Justin Miller, looks completely healthy - the bad luck from the past few seasons behind him.
``Regardless of where you are in your career, you've always got to look forward,'' Stuckey said. ``Whatever's happened, happened. You've got to look forward, try to get better everyday and just try to rise up.''
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