FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Jets safety Calvin Pryor is known as one of the NFL’s hardest hitters, but he’s also one of the least penalized. In fact, the flag he drew for unnecessary roughness against the Seahawks was the first in two-plus seasons in the NFL.
It was a costly one, too. Pryor was fined $24,309 for hitting a defenseless receiver when he crashed into receiver Doug Baldwin on a 37-yard reception. Baldwin got up slowly after the hit, but finished the game.
“I don’t feel [the hit] was worth $25,000,” Pryor said. “I’m going to appeal it and see how it goes. It happened so fast. When I spun around, [Baldwin] was already falling. That’s the only hit I could make. I tried to lower the target [on him] a little lower. It was just a bang-bang play.”
Pryor said the NFL informed him that he was fined for hitting Baldwin above the neck and shoulder area.
Asked what he thought a fair amount would be for the hit, Pryor replied, “Zero. I’m just thinking about my daughter and my family and all the [things] I could do with $25,000. But it is what it is. I’m a clean hitter. I never got flagged for any hit. This is my first one dating back to high school, college. Kind of surprised.”
Pryor and the Jets’ secondary has not played particularly well through their 1-3 start, and things don’t get any easier when they face the Steelers on Sunday at Heinz Field. The Steelers demolished the Chiefs, 43-14, on Sunday night, a week after suffering a 34-3 rout in Philadelphia.
“We just have to click together and make plays on the ball,” he said. “That’s something we haven’t been doing. As a group, we’re not discouraged. I think the communication [in practice] was better. Everybody was on the same page. Just got to go have fun and enjoy it.”
Pryor has immense respect for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who remains one of the game’s elite players in his 13th NFL season.
“He does a great job buying time,” Pryor said. “He’s not a fast guy and doesn’t like to get out of the pocket, but he buys time for his receivers to get down the field. He’s definitely one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Just going to be a tough matchup on Sunday.”
It’s all the more difficult because the Jets may not have cornerback Darrelle Revis, who hasn’t practiced this week because of a hamstring injury. Not the best way to go into a game against All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown.
“Very challenging, very tough receiver,” Pryor said of Brown. “He can do it all. He gets the ball a ton. He’s a tough matchup for anybody. Just have to line up and try to contain him the best way we can.”
As for his own play, Pryor said there’s room for improvement; he had a handful of missed assignments in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks.
“I definitely have to play better, I can say that,” he said.
How to do it against a team with as potent an offense as the Steelers?
“Just get back to the basics,” he said. “If you believe in one another, you believe in the guy next to you, he’s got your back, there’s no reason to be intimidated by it at all.”