The preseason questions surrounding the Jets’ struggles getting to the quarterback have already begun to wear on Calvin Pace. For one thing, they might not take fully into account that the outside linebacker wasn’t entirely healthy until late in last season.
Now, Pace said, he’s 100 percent. And for the first time since being paired up with Rex Ryan, he expects to start the season issue-free.
“That’s the goal, to be able to go out and play 16 regular season games,” Pace said. “The last two years weren’t how I planned it to be. My job is to stay healthy, not get suspended again, and I intend to do that.”
Last September, the 30-year-old had surgery on his broken right foot that sidelined him the first month of the season. The year before that, he was suspended for the first four games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy.
The foot injury, however, was more crippling, and Pace said he did not feel completely healthy until week nine or 10. He still finished second on the team with 5.5 sacks, to go with 51 tackles and one forced fumble.
Having Pace healthy for a full season should help boost those modest numbers. And the early camp theme about how the Jets will improve their play up front isn’t entirely accurate, Pace says.
“We spread the wealth around,” Pace said. “Would I love to have 15 sacks? Yes. But they ask me to do different things. … That’s just how we do things.”
He did say he has been impressed by the two rookies up front — Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis — so far in practice.
“I like both of them,” Pace said. “You never really know what to expect from rookies because this is a whole other league. … The one thing they do have is a good motor. I think they’ll add a lot to our team.”