June 14--Even in comparison to other NFL coaches, Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers is as tight-lipped as they come. He addresses the media once a week during the regular season, and despite every type of question being thrown his way, Rodgers rarely, if ever, says anything inflammatory or definitive.
But Wednesday was different. This time, he wasn't only speaking as a football coach. He was speaking as a father.
Rodgers' son, Kacy Rodgers II, signed with the Jets in February after a winding road to the NFL that included a stop on a CFL practice squad. He's been competing at safety in spring practices for a spot on the Jets' 53-man roster with his father coaching him from the sideline. And for Rodgers Sr., the experience has been "surreal."
Rodgers II was born in April 1992. Less than two years later, Rodgers Sr. began his coaching career as a defensive line coach for Tennessee-Martin, and he's been on a staff in each season since then, moving to the NFL ranks in 2003 with the Cowboys.
"Through my chosen career," Rodgers Sr. said Wednesday before the Jets' second mandatory minicamp practice in Florham Park, "I wasn't able to coach his little league team, I didn't coach his soccer team, I didn't coach his AAU team, I didn't coach his little league basketball team. The first time I get to coach my son is in the National Football League, on the highest level of football possible. So that's a little different."
Rodgers Sr. said he only saw his son play live once in high school. He also only caught one CFL game in person -- last June, when Rodgers II was playing his final preseason game for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
"You have to be proud of him," Rodgers Sr. said, "because everybody's road is different to get here."
But he is forced to check his fatherly love and devotion at the door.
"I get on him no different than any other (player)," Rodgers Sr. said. "That's my son when we walk outside the building, but when we walk in the building, he's number 39. He's got a job to do."
The Jets had their testiest open practice of the spring Wednesday, with plenty of jawing and trash-talking from both offensive and defensive players.
At one point, a scuffle nearly broke out between left tackle Kelvin Beachum and rookie defensive lineman Nathan Shepherd. Among the most vocal players were safety Jamal Adams, tight end Jordan Leggett, receiver Jermaine Kearse and cornerback Rashard Robinson.
"We have some guys that are probably unanimous All-Trash-Talking Team in shorts and t-shirts," Todd Bowles said. "So they make it every year, and it's not different today."
Bowles wouldn't name names, but said the Jets have "seven" or "eight" relentless trash-talkers at the moment.
"We got them on both sides definitely -- coaches included," Bowles said.
Bowles is fine with the trash talk as long as it stays "spirited."
"It's part of football," Bowles said. "There's been trash-talking for years. So you're used to it. As long as they know what they're doing, they can talk as much as they want. If they don't, they probably need to shut up.
Defensive lineman Leonard Williams drew the ire of Bowles during team drills Wednesday when he strip-sacked Teddy Bridgewater -- one of four turnovers the first-year Jets quarterback committed on the day. He also threw three picks.
"There is no fine line," Bowles said. "We don't touch the quarterback in shorts and t-shirt -- ever."
Replacement players from Washington's 1987 title team received Super Bowl XXII rings Tuesday. They played in three games from Week 4 to 6 during the players' strike, winning all three. Bowles was a regular member of that squad and was pleased with the gesture.
"I think it's great," Bowles said. "At the time, it was my second year, and when you're on strike and somebody has your job, obviously you want them to fail and you want to get back to work. So back then, they were a little hot-headed. I have to say I was probably included in that. Over time, as you move during the years, if they don't win those three ballgames, who knows what happens during that year. They worked hard for it, they earned it, and I'm happy they got them."
Receiver Terrelle Pryor had the walking boot on his right ankle removed. He walked around during practice Wednesday with medical tape on his lower leg. ...Former Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg cleared waivers after being waived by the Raiders on Tuesday and is now a free agent.
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