FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Marcus Maye unloaded a pad-popping hit on a would-be receiver, causing Maye’s helmet to fly off and the New York Jets’ defensive players to go wild.
Right in the middle of all the hootin’ and hollerin’ was Jamal Adams, just as he’s been all summer.
The two rookie safeties are getting their feet wet in the NFL together — as roommates and teammates. They’re also likely to open the season as starters in Todd Bowles’ revamped secondary.
“It’s been great, just from Day One, we’ve been hand in hand with each other, helping each other learn the playbook and helping each other on the field,” Maye said. “He sees things, he tells me. And when I see different stuff, I tell him, so it’s been going great.”
Adams was selected with the sixth overall pick in April out of LSU , surprising New York that he was still available after he was projected to go a few spots higher.
Despite already getting their stud safety to kick off their draft, the Jets jumped on the opportunity to take Maye in the second round — 39th overall — out of Florida.
Calvin Pryor, New York’s first-round pick in 2014, was suddenly the odd-man out after four up-and-down seasons. New York traded Pryor to Cleveland for linebacker Demario Davis in June, and that has opened the door for two rookie safeties to be in the opening lineup in Week 1 at Buffalo on Sept. 10.
“Marcus and I, we have a tremendous opportunity,” Adams said. “We’re back there together just trying to run around and make as many plays as possible. At the same time, we’re being coachable, listening to our coaches and listening to the vets. We’re just making checks and running around and having fun.
“This is what we love to do.”
It certainly shows.
The two are routinely around the football during training camp practices. On the days when the players are wearing pads, Adams and Maye make their presence felt. Literally.
“Whoever has the ball, go get it, go hit it,” Maye said. “That’s just what I do. That’s just how it is. Whoever has the ball — receiver, tight end, running back — it doesn’t matter.”
Just like the commotion he caused when he slammed into rookie tight end Jordan Leggett during a recent practice.
“I loved it,” a smiling Adams said of Maye’s hit. “I wouldn’t say anything negative about it.”
When the Jets’ first-team defense isn’t on the field, both Adams and Maye are easy to spot on the sideline. They’re usually right next to defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson, looking to glean something extra and pick up yet another tip to try to get better.
Their play on the practice field and attention to detail off it has impressed their veteran teammates.
“Just to see the way those guys have come in and put the burden on their backs, so to speak, and just go learn the defense, making checks and making different calls and stuff like that,” cornerback Morris Claiborne said.
“But most of all, going out and playing with the confidence that they’re playing with and having fun with it. That’s one of the most important things.”
In the ultra-competitive world of the NFL, where alpha dogs rule, the two rookies have already earned respect.
“Everybody has open arms,” Maye said. “They allow us to be ourselves and just go out and play. Coach tells us, ‘Don’t go out there and not be yourself. Go out there and continue to be the person you are, continue to be the player you are and go out and make plays for the team.’ That’s what we’ve been trying to do each day we step on the field.”
Adams and Maye will forever be linked after the Jets selected safeties in the opening two rounds of the draft for the first time in franchise history. They hope to build a legacy together in New York with successful NFL careers.
“We feed off of each other,” Adams said. “He gets a big hit, I want a big hit or vice versa. He’s definitely that guy who comes out, he plays very hard. He’s a smart guy.”
But Adams couldn’t help but take a jab at his buddy.
“Other than he went to Florida, we’re good,” Adams said with a laugh. “He’s a great player, but other than that, he’s a great person off the field and we’re going to have a lot of fun this year.”
NOTES: QB Christian Hackenberg opened team drills with the first-team offense for the first time since camp started after Josh McCown had done so in the first nine practices. Hackenberg finished with the most snaps overall and threw two TD passes, but also was intercepted twice. … RBs Matt Forte (hamstring) and Bilal Powell (neck), LB Lorenzo Mauldin (back), WRs Gabe Marks and Deshon Foxx, LB Frank Beltre, CB Xavier Coleman and S Shamarko Thomas did not practice, but Bowles wouldn’t rule any of them out for the preseason opener Saturday night vs. Tennessee.