C.J. Mosley calls Jets return ‘a breath of fresh air’

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After missing almost two full seasons, C.J. Mosley is ready for his return.

“It’s been a breath of fresh air, that’s the best way to put it,” the Jets linebacker recently said on The Official Jets Podcast. “I’m happy to be back in the building with my teammates, to be around the locker room and the new energy.”

Mosley returns to a very different team than the one he left last season after opting out because of the coronavirus pandemic. Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich run the show now with a new 4-3 scheme, and the Jets added a couple of new pieces to all levels of the defense. That is part of the excitement for the veteran linebacker.

“What we’re doing now is building a great foundation,” he said, “setting this team on course to stack up wins and get to where we want to go.”

Mosley has seen almost no game action since joining the Jets before the 2019 season. A groin injury sidelined him for all but 114 defensive snaps that year, and he opted out in 2020. Mosley isn’t worried about how missing all that time will or could affect his game, though. Reports from minicamp and OTAs said Mosley slimmed down and looked fast in the middle of the defense.

He compared his return to that of Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski, who retired from the NFL in 2018 only to return in 2020 and win a Super Bowl with Tom Brady the same season.

“Yeah, I don’t have any doubts in myself,” he said. “When you’re out for a while, you’re always in your head, thinking, ‘When I get back, how’s it going to feel? Am I going to be able to move like I used to?’ I feel great.”

The defense Mosley rejoins is now older and younger at the same time. Stalwarts like Quinnen Williams and Marcus Maye improved dramatically over the past two seasons and the Jets added veterans like Carl Lawson, Vinny Curry, Jarrad Davis and Lamarcus Joyner to beef up important positions.

But Joe Douglas also drafted young players at linebacker and cornerback – players who will undoubtedly play key roles on defense. Rookie linebackers Hamsah Nasirildeen and Jamien Sherwood could even find themselves lining up next to Mosley in the middle of the defense if they perform well in training camp.

“There’s going to be a lot of disruption, that’s the best way to put it,” Mosley said. “Guys coming off the ball, it’s just going to make our job easier once they get penetration, once we start playing we can really let our guys go to make plays on the back end.

“I feel our group is young, not experienced, but there’s so much raw talent. We can mold them, fit right into the defense. We’ll let our play do the talking.”

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New York Jets' post-minicamp 53-man roster prediction