FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Freddie Bishop wouldn’t waste time speculating. But somewhere beneath his sly smile was the true answer to the question.
The former Canadian Football League pass rusher collected 14 sacks in 25 games and a Grey Cup championship over the past three seasons. But deep down, he knows his stats could have been even better.
Before heading out to practice Friday, Bishop shared a little-known fact: In Canadian football, the distance between the line of scrimmage and the defensive team is a full yard. And that means one thing for guys like Bishop. “It gives the offense a little bit more of an advantage,” he said on the second day of Jets rookie minicamp practice.
But no longer does the 6-3, 255-pound pass rusher have to worry about that 1-yard handicap. Now, he’s free to unleash his speed and agility in the NFL, and more specifically as an outside linebacker in Todd Bowles’ defense.
So what can Jets fans expect to see? “Just speed off the edge,” said the 26-year-old, who played for the Calgary Stampeders. “I have good hands, I’m able to get the edge on guys well and I play to my tool . . . know the things I do well and that’s what I use.”
Though he was “strictly a D-end coming off the edge” in Canada, the Inkster, Michigan native said he’ll be playing “a little bit of both” for the Jets. “I’m playing the WILL position right now, so pretty much coming off the edge, pass-rushing doing a little bit of coverage and things like that.”
The Jets jettisoned former first-round pick Quinton Coples, a converted outside linebacker, last season and have thus far shown little interest in re-signing 35-year-old free agent Calvin Pace (though Bowles said Friday that the door “is not closed” on the veteran outside linebacker returning). But the organization has taken measures to revamp their linebacker corps by infusing some youth and speed.
“It was a priority for us to get better [as a team],” Bowles said. “We didn’t know which position we were able to get [in the draft]. We just happened to be able to get the linebackers that were available to us. We are happy with the guys that we got, obviously. We’re younger, there is a lot of experience that they have to replace and they have to learn a lot of things but we are happy with the guys that we got.”
Asked specifically about Bishop, he said: “We saw some things in Freddie, ”not just the sacks, but as far as him playing the position and knowing how to play the position that made him appealing to us and made us want to sign him.”
Bishop said he was told that the chances of getting an opportunity to contribute “would be good . . . And in this game, that’s all you can really ask for. An opportunity to come in and show your worth and put your best foot forward.”