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Jets' top pick adjusting to life in NFL

Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams rides a stationary

Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams rides a stationary bikes during an organized team activity on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in Florham Park, N.J. Photo Credit: AP / Julio Cortez

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Leonard Williams' jitters are gone.

Having made it through rookie camp and organized team activities, the Jets' first-round pick has started settling into life in the NFL and Todd Bowles' new defense.

But the older guys haven't let him forget that he's no longer the big man on campus.

"It's definitely different, because when I was at USC, I was like 'the guy' in the room," Williams, the sixth overall pick, said with a smile. "And now I'm starting from the bottom again -- guys are making me carry their helmets to the locker and that type of stuff, so I'm not used to that."

But he knows his role -- and he's accepted it happily.

"I know that I'm coming in as the new guy," the defensive lineman said. "I know I'm a rookie, so I know I'm going to have to do the little things here and there, like carry the guys' helmets, or go to the front of the room -- we gotta tell jokes, sometimes like that. Just the little things to know, and follow the rules, basically."

Williams prefers not being the focal point of the defense just yet. He would rather learn and take advice from the veterans. But Bowles has already praised Williams for his play this offseason. The Jets head coach said Thursday that Williams "held his own" during minicamp and wasn't "a fish out of water" when it came to knowing his assignments.

Williams has been rotating positions, including left end and nose tackle depending on the situation. "Now that we've been here for some time now, I got the playbook down and I'm moving a lot faster," he said.

But there is one thing Williams hasn't adjusted to yet -- his jersey number.

"Yeah, it's definitely weird," he said of wearing No. 62, a jersey number typically worn by offensive linemen. "Like I said, that's just another part of knowing my role, you know? I just gotta wait it out, just keep working hard and eventually, just get a (defensive lineman) number."

The Jets have six weeks off before they have to report to training camp on July 29. During that time, Williams plans to work out at USC, enjoy the Southern California weather and finally get a driver's license.

"I already know how to drive," the soon-to-be 21-year-old pointed out. (Williams' birthday is June 20.)

He also plans to drop weight this summer. Currently, he's 320 pounds, but his target weight is 312.

For now, Williams isn't thinking too much about how much playing time he'll get on a line that's comprised of young talents like Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson and Damon Harrison.

Said Williams: "I'm just expecting whatever the coaches give me. I'm just trying to go out there, work hard every day and just play my role and let the coach decide that."


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