FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Marcus Maye tries to be positive, but he admitted there were times his spirits were down. The third-year Jets safety said he didn’t feel like he was a part of the team because all he could do was watch.
“I’m the type of guy, I like to compete,” Maye said following practice Thursday. “I like to be on the field running around with the guys. So just being on the sideline watching was definitely the toughest thing because you want to be out there doing something that you love to do. Not being able to perform and be out there with the guys running around was definitely the toughest thing.”
Maye is back running around with the guys, much to the delight of Adam Gase and the Jets. And on Saturday night, Maye will be on the MetLife Stadium field, lining up against the Saints.
It may be just another preseason game, but for Maye, it’s a little more than that. He hasn’t played since last Nov. 11. But he’s fully healthy now and can’t wait to resume his playing career.
“Just being out there on the field is the most important thing, just staying healthy,” Maye said. “Once I’m out there I’m going to go out there, fly around and make plays and stuff, so being out there is the first step.
“It was a long offseason, a lot of hard work to get to this point. Just the fact that I’m here and looking back at where I was during the offseason, I’m definitely excited.”
Maye’s goal is to play all 16 games this season. He only played in six last year because of foot, thumb and shoulder injuries.
In Week 10, Maye hurt his shoulder and his season was over. He underwent surgery in December and was on course to be ready for training camp. But he started out on the physically unable to perform list. It turned out Maye had a nerve issue.
Maye trained on the side, building up his wind and conditioning while his teammates practiced. He kept telling Gase he felt fine and he wanted to play. But Maye needed to reach certain strength tests.
He did a little more than a week ago, and the pads came on. Then the red jersey came off Sunday, and he was able to hit and be hit. Now it's game time.
“He’s had some bad luck,” Gase said. “He’s done everything he can to get back on the field. I love how he pushed to practice this week. He wanted to be available for the game. Everything looks like it’s a go. He tries to do everything right.”
Gase said Maye is in “dynamic shape” and he looks forward to seeing him and fellow safety Jamal Adams on the field together. That’s how all Jets fans feel.
“Hopefully we can keep them on the field,” Gase said. “Those two guys together are fun to watch.”
Adams and Maye were taken with the sixth and 39th picks in the 2017 NFL Draft and quickly showed they had a bright future together. But that was slowed last year because of Maye’s health. If Maye can stay healthy, the Jets have two play-making safeties who can be utilized numerous ways in defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ system.
“They can do everything you ask them to do,” Gase said. “They can play back, they can play in the box. I know the majority of the time you see Marcus deep, Jamal down, but they’re really interchangeable. They both can pressure. They’re good tacklers. Marcus has a very good knack for the ball. He finds ways to get his hands on the ball when he’s playing the post safety. I don’t think Jamal has had as many opportunities because he’s been in the box so much in his career. Both those guys can cover guys one-on-one. They just have the whole skill set you need as a safety.”
They’re also close friends. Maye credits Adams and the rest of the Jets defensive backs for helping him get through this rough patch.
“A ton of help,” Maye said. “Those guys in the DB room they keep me around, they come in there, check on me in the training room, I’m out there working out by myself. They did a good job of keeping me up to the speed with everything. I’m just excited to be back.”