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Muhammad Wilkerson says he never considered skipping training camp

Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson celebrates after sacking quarterback

Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson celebrates after sacking quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth quarter during a game at MetLife Stadium on Oct. 13, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Credit: Getty Images

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - No-showing was never an option for Muhammad Wilkerson.

As annoyed as he's been about the stalled contract talks between his agent and the Jets, Wilkerson said he had every intention of reporting to training camp.

"Well, I'm one of the leaders on this team and it's the start of training camp,'' the defensive lineman said Thursday after the first practice of the summer. "My job is to get out here with my teammates and get ready for the season."

Wilkerson has been seeking a long-term deal since last season, back when John Idzik was the general manager. But the regime change at One Jets Drive hasn't sped up the negotiating process between Wilkerson's camp and new GM Mike Maccagnan.

Wilkerson, who still is playing on his rookie deal, will earn $6.9 million this season. The Jets also could choose to put the franchise tag on him in 2016, thereby keeping him.

Wilkerson said the lack of movement on a new contract has been "a little frustrating" but added: "At the end of the day, I'm just happy to be out here with my teammates and get this season going."

The native of Elizabeth, New Jersey said he's "confident" that his agent and the Jets will be able to reach an agreement. "Hopefully something happens," he said.

He later added: "I guess you've got to ask upstairs how they feel about that."

Though he's optimistic about a resolution coming sooner rather than later, Wilkerson already has prepared himself for the alternative outcome. He reiterated Thursday that he will play out the year on his current deal if he doesn't get an extension.

"I'm going to focus on the season," said Wilkerson, 25. "That's my job, to go out and be competitive with my teammates and get ready for games on Sunday. I don't want to be worried about contract situations. That's a distraction for myself and as well as my teammates."

Wilkerson skipped voluntary workouts and organized team activities, though he attended mandatory minicamp.

But while he gave "no consideration at all" to skipping training camp, he made it clear that he won't be discussing the topic of his contract negotiations going forward.

"I just want to say, I know you guys have a job and you're going to continue to ask me some contract questions," Wilkerson told reporters. "But this is going to be the first and last day that I answer questions about my contract."

Asked repeatedly if he has a specific dollar amount in mind for his long-term deal, Wilkerson said: "That's between me and my agent . . . I won't let you guys know that."


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