FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Jeremy Kerley finally felt like himself again on the practice field. And he made sure to showcase just what he can do on the final day of Jets minicamp.
Blanketed by slot corner Buster Skrine, the 5-9, 188-pound Kerley twisted his body mid-route and hauled in Geno Smith's pass with surprising ease.
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"That's like the instinctive thing that I have -- the ability to stop and turn and maneuver my body around people to catch the ball," Kerley said Thursday, adding that Smith's pass was "right where it needed to be. I know what helps me. And that's something that I can do day in and day out."
His catch was one of the top practice plays this offseason, even topping the highlight-reel catch Brandon Marshall made on Wednesday. During team drills on Day 2 of minicamp, the 6-4, 230-pound Marshall leaped and snagged a pass over the helmet of defensive back Darrin Walls.
"It was all right. I wouldn't say it was cool," Kerley said of Marshall's catch, flashing a playful grin. "Yeah, mine was better than his. Straight up.
"Write that down: My catch was better than that."
All kidding aside, Kerley couldn't be happier to have Marshall in his meeting room. While some receivers might have felt threatened by his arrival, the Jets slot man welcomes Marshall's talent and toughness.
"I went from having Santonio [Holmes] to Plaxico [Burress] to Stephen [Hill] -- I've had all these guys that were No. 1s around me. So to have Marshall, that doesn't rain on my parade. It's all the same thing," said Kerley, the Jets' fifth-round pick in 2011. "Man, he's a playmaker, he's a threat in the red zone, he's a threat anywhere on the field.
"I don't care about targets, who gets the ball, I just want to win and I just want to go to the playoffs. I just want to do something I haven't done before. And if he can be the one to help us, then he's the one to help us. I [could] care less."
Though Kerley's stats are modest, he's been one of the few consistent and reliable pieces in the Jets offense over the past few years. He's caught 166 passes for 2,073 yards and seven touchdowns in four seasons and rushed 18 times for 133 yards.
Although the additions of Eric Decker and Marshall are sure to cut into his stats, the scrappy slot receiver isn't concerned.
"Anybody who knows me knows I'm not worried about nothing," said Kerley, 26. "I've been an underdog, I've been in the shadows, I've been ignored for a long time. So I don't care. I let my play speak for itself. All I've got to do is go out there and do me."
He already has the support of new general manager Mike Maccagnan. While discussing the Jets' receiving corps during an April conference call with season-ticket holders, Maccagnan said he scouted Kerley coming out of TCU and that he's "excited to see him get a few more reps than he got last year in terms of his playing time."
"I got him on my side, so that's good," said Kerley, who received a four-year extension last year worth $16 million from former GM John Idzik.
Kerley has been nursing a sore Achilles, which he said was caused by wearing a different style of cleats that were "pulling on the back of my heel" and putting significant pressure on his Achilles.
"But today I felt good, I felt like my old self," he said.
Despite having the play of the week, Kerley said he didn't talk any trash to Skrine.
"I respect Buster like he's a Darrelle Revis," Kerley said of the 5-9, 188-pound cornerback, who played the past four seasons in Cleveland.
"I love his play, man. He's a grimy dude. He's got no stop [in his game]. He doesn't care who you are, he's going to play you hard . . . And I love that and I respect him a lot. So every time I go up against Buster, I know it's going to be something."