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Ivory's finding his groove

Running back Chris Ivory #33 of the New

Running back Chris Ivory #33 of the New York Jets speaks to the media at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on May 16, 2013 in Florham Park, New Jersey. (photo by Mike Stobe) Credit: Mike Stobe

Rex Ryan knows Chris Ivory does the most damage when he’s free to run. So, for now, the Jets coach is taking a wait and see approach with his new running back.

“Ivory’s not going to shine until you put the pads on,” Ryan said after Wednesday’s OTA. “He’s a physical-style back. So we’re really not going to see what he’s all about until we start putting the ball under his arm and let him run. That’s the other thing: here we’re really not running the ball. We’re purposely not doing that to protect our guys and to not risk guys going to the ground without pads on.”

Though he was sans pads, Ivory flashed his footwork and speed on the practice field Wednesday – at David Harris’ expense.

Ivory caught a check-down in the flat and, when he saw Harris coming, spun around and headed upfield. Ivory’s sudden burst left the linebacker on the ground – to the delight of the defense.

Ivory smiled when asked about the play in the locker room.

“I kind of felt him,” he said. “As a player, you get body-presence, and I kind of felt him coming over the top. I just stopped, and got back vertical up the field.”

The former Saint spent much of his time in New Orleans stuck behind other running backs. But after signing a three-year, $6-million deal with the Jets this offseason, he’s excited about the prospect of playing in Marty Mornhinweg’s West Coast Offense.

“Marty is a high-energy guy. He’s pretty cool,” Ivory said. “I like Marty. Everything’s coming together.”

Because Mornhinweg’s system is new to everyone, it puts the running backs on equal footing, said Ivory. “It gives us an opportunity to just come out with no favorites,” he added. “So it’s just going to be on your performance.”

It’s unclear if, or how, Mike Goodson factors into the Jets’ offensive plans following his arrest last week on drug and weapons charges. (He pled not guilty in court Wednesday morning). But despite his absence, the Jets feel good about their running backs group. Ryan added both Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight came back in great shape.

“They’re all fast, all have good ball skills,” said Ivory. “So I think once we all get our opportunities to hold the ball in our hands, we can make plays. I think they’ll have a role for each guy. I’m not sure how many will travel to the game – probably three. So whatever three we decide -- or four, however we do it – everybody’s going to have their own role.”

As for Goodson’s legal troubles, Ivory declined to comment. “That’s his situation,” he said, “so I rather leave that for him to talk about or the coaches.”

Ryan and Co. had plenty to talk about on the practice field. Sure, there were far more turnovers than Rex cared to count (three courtesy of Mark Sanchez). But there also was Ivory’s play on Harris – a spin-move that caught the attention of everyone on the field.

Harris smiled as he got to his feet, while Ryan and his players got in some good-natured ribbing.

“I came back, just took it for what it was and got ready for the next play,” said Ivory.
“It’s not the first time that we’ve been out doing football-related drills, but it does feel good just to come out and just show your worth.”

The running back used to bristle when questioned about his play-catching ability, but now Ivory’s in a situation – and a system – where he’s able to consistently show off his hands.

“I won’t say I have to prove it anymore,” Ivory said. “It’s more one of those things where you just do it and let people see.” 

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