Rookie Jamien Sherwood is about to assume a much larger role within the Jets’ defense.
Sherwood, the Jets’ fifth-round pick out of Auburn said he feels comfortable stepping in at strong-side linebacker for Jarrad Davis, who suffered an ankle injury in Saturday’s preseason game at Green Bay. Head coach Robert Saleh said he hopes Sherwood can pick up right where Davis, who is expected to be out for two months, left off.
“It’s a great opportunity for me,” Sherwood said Tuesday after the Jets’ joint practice with the Eagles. “I’m having a good training camp, running with the [second team]. Just want to show the coaches what I got, they drafted me to be here, just proving to them that I’m supposed to be here.”
Sherwood served in a hybrid role in college, mostly playing safety. He said the biggest adjustment between playing safety and linebacker was countering blocks, learning how to use his hands more and, as one of the smaller linebackers, playing what he described as “big-boy ball.”
Scheme-wise, Sherwood said the transition was easier for him because of his communication skills. He described his ability to learn the playbook as one of his biggest assets, adding that once he got the plays under wraps, he knew them “like the back of my hand.”
That wasn’t always the case for Sherwood, who said he struggled with his communication while playing at Auburn. But coming into rookie minicamp, Sherwood said he told himself to be confident and make his presence known.
Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich has said Sherwood “picked up the fine details of this defense already” and “has a different level of communication than maybe I’ve ever seen in a rookie.” Ulbrich also praised Sherwood for his ability to command the defense, run the huddle and make adjustments.
Saleh even mentioned Sherwood in the same sentence as 49ers Pro Bowler Fred Warner, who played nickel back in college and converted to middle linebacker during his rookie year, 2018. Knowing that part of the Jets’ new coaching staff came from San Francisco, Sherwood said he made a point to watch the 49ers’ games from last season to see how Warner played.
Sherwood is expected to slot in next to middle linebacker C.J. Mosley and opposite either sixth-round pick Hamsah Nasirildeen or Noah Dawkins. Sherwood mentioned he has picked Mosley’s brain during meetings and Davis has lent some helpful advice as well.
“Just getting ready, just taking everything day by day,” Sherwood said of mentally preparing himself for a bigger role. “Today is a good day to learn from, I had plenty of reps. But I can learn from each of those reps and then tomorrow, we’ll do the same thing.”