Chansi Stuckey Could Emerge as a Key Contributor for the New York Jets

Brian FitzsimmonsContributor IAugust 9, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 30:  Chansi Stuckey #83 of the New York Jets runs the ball against the Denver Broncos on November 30, 2008 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Rex Ryan has been pressed into admitting Jerricho Cotchery is on an island that holds no other viable option at wide receiver and one too many quarterbacks.


The Jets’ first-year head coach is reportedly disappointed no one has emerged as the clear-cut second wideout to complement Cotchery, and went as far as suggesting receiving coach Henry Ellard, 48, is the best option out there according to the New York Post.


Whether he’s trying to spark a fire or simply exercise more of his humorous tactics, Ryan does, in fact, have a wild card waiting in the wings ready to join Cotchery and tight end Dustin Keller as trusted targets for whoever wins the starting quarterback job.


He just has to give Chansi a chance.


Chansi Stuckey was impressive in the 2007 pre-season by catching 11 passes. The rookie’s first dip in NFL waters was a success, but also irrelevant considering other receivers named Brent Celek, Paris Warren, and Delanie Walker hauled in more receptions.


And we all know it’s a fool’s game to pass any judgment on players or teams before the regular season commences. The 25-year-old Stuckey further validated that adage as he went on to sit out the entire 2007 campaign with a broken foot.


A year later, the former Clemson standout benefited from a healthy recovery and shined in the first three games of the following regular season, registering 12 catches, 122 yards and three touchdowns.


Stuckey’s production, however, slowed considerably the rest of the way. He finished with 32 catches, 359 yards, and three scores for an offense that also went down the tubes in the second half.


Just days away from the pre-season opener against the St. Louis Rams (Friday, 7:00 pm; WCBS), Stuckey is hoping to take the next step in his career with the help of Ellard—a former receiver who surpassed 1,000 yards four times during a 16-year tenure in the league.


“He lets you figure out a lot of things on your own and then he coaches you,” Stuckey said, according to the team’s web site. “Me being a young guy—it’s only my third year—I look to him for a lot of wisdom. Every question I have, he always has an answer for it or an example that he’s had in his playing years.”


So here we are, asking a question more important to the Jets’ upcoming season than most care to admit: Should Ryan and the team’s braintrust turn to Stuckey’s small sample of brilliance for a hint of confidence, or worry about how he dropped off?


“Talk is talk. They can talk all they want,” Stuckey said of his naysayers. “But you have to do your playing on the field, so when the season comes all we are trying to do is come out and win games.”


It turns out the Jets have no choice but to hope Stuckey can become more consistent with more playing time now that Laveranues Coles is vapor. A seventh-round pick in the 2007 draft, Stuckey is up for the challenge.


“Every year, you have to take your game to a new level,” Stuckey said. “I’m just trying to do the outside as well as still doing the inside stuff and be a versatile receiver.”


According to the team’s web site, Stuckey worked out with former Jets receiver and 13-year NFL veteran Terance Mathis in the off-season.


“I picked up a bunch of things as far as route-running and body language and little tricks of the trade that I learned from him that are going to be very useful this season,” Stuckey said.

They’ll come in handy when the time comes to rise above David Clowney, Wallace Wright, Brad Smith, and Marcus Henry in the depth chart.


They’ll also be on display Friday, when the new and improved Stuckey takes the field and Chansi gets his first chance.