Jets LB Gholston still trying to grasp defense Print
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Thursday, 09 October 2008 13:39
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 FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) -Vernon Gholston used some of the down time during the New York Jets' bye week to catch up on some heavy reading.
The telephone directory-sized defensive playbook has been a constant companion for the rookie outside linebacker, who's still trying to learn the Jets' complex system.
``I just looked over the plays that I've had and kind of evaluate myself a little bit, see the things I need to do better and try to get a better grasp of the concepts on defense,'' Gholston said Thursday. ``We put in a lot of new stuff over the bye week, so I was just trying to get a handle on that kind of stuff.''
Gholston has been trying to do that ever since he was drafted No. 6 overall by the Jets in April. A dominant pass-rushing force at Ohio State, Gholston has shown little of that explosiveness through New York's first four games.
ong way to go.''
Gholston was a defensive end with the Buckeyes and set the school's single-season record with 14 sacks last year. The Jets are transforming Gholston into a 3-4 outside linebacker, and the transition has taken lots of getting used to.
``Once I get a full understanding of that and how it should be played and watching tape of other guys and really understanding where I need to be, I can play faster and play with a little more confidence out there,'' Gholston said. ``I think that's the biggest thing.''
His introduction to the new position was delayed when he missed minicamp because of an NCAA rule that wouldn't allow him to practice until Ohio State's spring semester was completed. He then missed a day of training camp because of a brief contract holdout.
``He's a rookie, man,'' said linebacker Calvin Pace, a former first-round pick of Arizona. ``A lot of people put too much pressure on rookies. This is a guy that just came from college. I'm not making excuses for him. ... You're playing against a lot of different people and sometimes your head spins. Sometimes you go home and you're like, 'What happened today?' You just really kind of black out.''
Gholston has one tackle on defense, but had four special-teams tackles in the Jets' 56-35 victory over Arizona in Week 4. The effort earned Gholston the Jets' special teams player of the week award.
``Those aren't gimmes,'' coach Eric Mangini said. ``You've got to earn that, and he did. I was proud of that fact, especially in an area he's not familiar with. Now, defensively, we need to see that continued growth as well.''
Gholston hadn't played on special teams since his first season at Ohio State.
``I think playing special teams has helped him from the standpoint of having him get out there and run around,'' Pace said. ``Use that to go out there and just hit somebody.''
Gholston has leaned on Pace and Bryan Thomas, both former first-round picks who struggled with expectations and position changes in their careers.
``It's hard to ask a 21-, 22-year-old guy to go out there and have a Pro Bowl season,'' Pace said. ``You've got different hours, there's no class - you're not that guy anymore. Somebody else has that limelight. It's one of those situations where you need to go play your role and go lean on everybody else.''
Thomas said Gholston's struggles aren't unique, but rather a common hurdle for rookies.
``That's how it is when you're learning any new defense,'' Thomas said. ``You come in as a rookie and totally learning a new system he's never played before, at times, it can be difficult. It's just about being able to adjust to it.''
Gholston has even spoken to New England linebacker Mike Vrabel, who previously held Ohio State's sacks record.
``Once I got drafted and knew where I was going and the position I would be playing, I wanted to get his grasp of the defense,'' Gholston said. ``He's been playing (outside linebacker) for a while and he made the Pro Bowl last year, so obviously, he's pretty good at it.''
Gholston has been hard on himself at times, and acknowledged that he gets frustrated when he makes mistakes. Still, he thinks back to where he was early in training camp and believes he's making progress.
``From the day I stepped in here, not knowing where to be and running around like my head was cut off, to now knowing where I'm at and being comfortable out there and making plays is a big stride,'' he said. ``And that's all you can ask for.''
 

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