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Laurent Duvernay-Tardif ready to help Jets after 18 months without game action

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif runs during Kansas City training camp

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif runs during Kansas City training camp on July 28, 2021 in St Joseph, Missouri. Credit: Getty Images/Peter Aiken

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif spent last year on the front lines of the COVID pandemic, but for the Jets this year, he’ll be part of a very different line of protection.

Duvernay-Tardif, 30, a right guard who opted out last season to practice as a doctor in a long-term care facility in his native Canada, was traded to the Jets from Kansas City Tuesday for backup tight end Daniel Brown, who also plays on special teams. Duvernay-Tardif hasn’t played since starting for Kansas City in their 2019 Super Bowl victory – firstly due to the pandemic, then a broken hand this preseason, and then after getting ousted by rookie Trey Smith. He waived his no-trade clause to join the Jets. The move could push out Long Island’s Greg Van Roten.

And though it's certainly been a while, Duvernay-Tardif believes the long layoff could be an advantage.

"You know, I’ve been away 18 months but you still practice pretty hard in Kansas City," he said. "I went through most of training camp, though of course I injured my hand, but I feel pretty good right now. I’m in great shape, probably because of the fact I didn’t play last year and I want to use that as an advantage. Now it’s just a matter of transitioning, learning the culture, learning the playbook, learning the system and trying to earn the job. In the NFL nothing is taken for granted or given to you, so you’ve got to earn it."

Joe Douglas said Tuesday that the move gives the Jets another veteran presence, along with a Super Bowl-winning pedigree. It also offers them a level of depth within the unit.

As for Duvernay-Tardif, he said he was aware that opting out last season would make it difficult to regain his starting job (the hand didn’t help) but he felt compelled to be of use elsewhere. He’s only the fourth NFL player to have graduated from medical school, and the only active one, having received a doctor of medicine and master of surgery at Montreal’s McGill University Faculty of Medicine.

"After the Super Bowl, of course the pandemic started, and I volunteered to go work in a long-term care facility and I was really part of a movement of healthcare professionals that went back to help on the front line," he said. "After seeing what I saw, I just felt like my role in 2020 was to continue my work there and I decided to opt out. It was a tough decision, but at the same time, after seeing all the sacrifices that healthcare workers were making and are still making today, it just made more sense for me to stay home and work and try to help my patients to the best of my ability."

He hopes the Jets will provide a better fit for him – and one where he’ll actually see playing time. He’s only suited up once so far this year.

"We thought this was the best opportunity for me, so we took a deal and I’m pretty excited to be here," he said. "I think the Jets, with the style of offense that they’re playing, really fit in with my skill set."

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