Kearse brings big catches to Jets, leadership to young WRs
FLORHAM PARK, New Jersey (AP) — Jermaine Kearse has won a Super Bowl and made a few highlight-reel catches in the big game.
Now with the rebuilding New York Jets, the playmaking wide receiver is looking to make his mark with his new team.
“I try to play my best game every game,” Kearse said Monday after his first practice with the Jets. “I’ve got a chip on my shoulder. I’m still hungry out here and I’ve got a lot of things that I want to prove.”
Kearse was acquired by New York last Friday from Seattle for defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, with draft picks included in the deal on both sides.
The 27-year-old Kearse immediately became the Jets’ most experienced receiver on the roster, and a guy who knows what it takes to win a title.
“He brings veteran leadership,” coach Todd Bowles said. “Obviously, he can catch the ball. He has to get up to speed on the offense some so we can find out what he can do more of. We know he’s made big catches in big games.
“He’s very intelligent, good blocker, good team guy. Just have to see what his favorite routes are and things that we can do with him, and get a feel that way.”
The Jets just need to flip on the film to find out.
He helped Seattle reach the Super Bowl during the 2013 season when he had a 35-yard touchdown catch against San Francisco in the Seahawks’ 23-17 win.
Against Denver two weeks later, Kearse had four receptions for 65 yards, including a 23-yard TD catch-and-run during which he broke four tackles before reaching the end zone in Seattle’s 43-8 rout to win its first Lombardi Trophy.
“That was probably one of my favorites,” Kearse said.
The following postseason against Carolina in the NFC Divisional Round, Kearse had a spectacular one-handed grab that he turned into a 63-yard TD. His 35-yard score in overtime in the NFC championship gave Seattle a 28-22 win over Green Bay.
Kearse followed that up with one of the Super Bowl’s most memorable catches, a 33-yard acrobatic grab during which the football bounced off his body four times before he reeled in Russell Wilson’s pass with 1:06 left in the game.
“I hear about it often,” he said. “I was just trying to make a play and trying to win a Super Bowl. He gave me a chance, an opportunity, and I just tried to make a play for him.”
But New England ruined Seattle’s repeat bid moments later when Malcolm Butler intercepted Wilson’s pass intended for Ricardo Lockette at the goal line and secured the Patriots’ 28-24 win. Coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell took a lot of criticism after the game for not running the ball.
“Hey, man, I run the play that he called,” Kearse said, laughing. “He called the play and I do as told.”
Since being signed as an undrafted rookie out of Washington by Seattle in 2012, Kearse has caught 153 passes for 2,109 yards and 11 touchdowns in regular-season games.
That’s more than twice the number of career receptions for Robby Anderson, who was slated to be the No. 1 receiver after the departures of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker and the loss of Quincy Enunwa for the season because of a neck injury.
Anderson had 42 catches as a rookie, while Charone Peake had 19. The remaining four receivers on the roster — rookies ArDarius Stewart, Chad Hansen and Damore’ea Stringfellow, and second-year wideout Kalif Raymond — have a combined zero NFL receptions.
“We’ve got a real young receiving corps and a lot of guys who want to (prove themselves),” Kearse said, “so I think I’ll fit well.”
The Jets parted ways with one of their best players to get him in Richardson, who was entering the final year of his contract.
It was uncertain if New York would have been able to re-sign him. So instead of potentially just letting Richardson walk for nothing, the Jets got a receiver who can help immediately and a second-round pick in next year’s draft. The teams also swapped seventh-rounders.
“It was a good move for both parties,” Bowles said. “It was a good move for us short term and long term. We needed another wideout. We got an extra pick. They got a good player.”
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