Howard Green getting fresh start with Jets

Jets defensive lineman Howard Green at training camp

Jets defensive lineman Howard Green at training camp last week. Photo Credit: Pat Orr

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CORTLAND, N.Y. - Howard Green began questioning himself, wondering whether he was ever going to truly be able to completely fulfill his desire to have a lengthy, productive NFL career.

The defensive lineman had just been cut from Saints, the team that's a little more than an hour's drive east from his hometown of Donaldsonville, La. The start of the 2005 regular season was merely days away, yet Green was out of a job and suddenly down on his luck.

Nobody wanted him. It hurt.

"After being in New Orleans, and being a starter and going from starting to getting released, that was a major, major blow for me," Green said. "It kind of took me through a little downfall and a depression stage. But I kind of shook it off and got back and said, 'You know what? This is not you. You are better than that.' So that was their loss. You move forward and go on and do your thing."

Still, Green's path back to the NFL wasn't as smooth as a freshly laid stretch of asphalt. Save for a brief cameo with the Dolphins in 2006, Howard was out of the league for the better part of 2005 and 2006. He got cut by the Vikings at the end of training camp in 2007, but his big break finally came when then-Seahawk Chuck Darby injured himself in October 2007, paving the path for Howard to sign with Seattle.


So though the 2009 campaign marks the fifth season for the 30-year-old, a GPS has probably been his best friend. He's made eight stops with seven different franchises, making him a frequent flier if there ever was one.

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"It's been a roller coaster," Green said. "Getting drafted to Houston in '02. Being there, going to Baltimore. Leaving Baltimore, coming back to Houston. New Orleans, where I was a starter for a year. I mean, from there, you name it. I've been to Miami, Minnesota, and I finally got on with Seattle. Stuck there for two solid years and now I'm here with the Jets."

Green, who appeared in 13 of Seattle's 16 games a season ago and collected 21 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble, has been one of the surprises of training camp. The Jets signed him as a free agent in March, and he's been getting his share of first-team reps at nose tackle with Kris Jenkins still out with a strained left calf.

At 6-2, 335 pounds - he lost about 27 pounds in the offseason, leading Rex Ryan to change his nickname from "Big Howard" to "Not-So-Big Howard" - he's a mini-Jenkins of sorts and has been a disruptive force in the middle.

"He's a tough dude," Ryan said. "He's big, strong. That's a signing that kind of went under the radar. We knew what we had. I coached him in Baltimore, had some time with him there. We knew what we were getting and we are getting a big, huge guy. There's not many guys on this planet that have his size and his ability."

That's why Ryan envisions a big role for Howard. He'll be a key player in the defensive line rotation and is loving his rebirth. He just wants to get in where he fits in.

"Anything, it doesn't matter," Green said. "I can play nose, three-technique. If they need me to be a linebacker, I don't care. Whatever they need me to do, coach Rex and coach [Mike] Pettine, I'm here for that. That's what I'm here for."

Notes & quotes: C Nick Mangold suffered a right knee injury during 9-on-7 drills, but Ryan said it's not serious . . . CB Darrelle Revis (left hamstring) was held out of his second straight practice for precautionary reasons . . . S Keith Fitzhugh (left rotator cuff bruise) returned to practice wearing a non-contact No. 8 jersey.

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