Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Jets' Pryor Says Change Is Good for Him

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Jets' Pryor Says Change Is Good for Him

Article excerpt

FLORHAM PARK -- The locker room had almost cleared out.

Calvin Pryor stood in his own quiet corner, anxious to make his escape and doing his best to avoid eye contact with a reporter.

But then came the questions he hoped to dodge.

About his very public benching last November. His struggles in coverage as a rookie first-round draft pick. And the embarrassing revelation last season that he had been late to multiple team meetings.

"It's in the past," Pryor said Friday after practice, punctuating his statement with the eye contact he was withholding. "And I'm going to let it be the past. Different coaching staff. Different players in the locker room.

"It's a new beginning."

It looked like it on Sunday.

Pryor led the Jets with 10 tackles in their season-opening victory over the Browns. And he forced a fumble on a hit that not only saved a touchdown, but knocked Cleveland quarterback Josh McCown out of the game.

This season, a more comfortable Pryor is playing the role he is naturally suited for -- strong safety in coach Todd Bowles' defense, not free safety in Rex Ryan's.

And Pryor says he finally can become the big-hitting, enforcer- type player he was drafted to be in 2014.

"I think my role on this team is to go be a head-hunter and just go play football," said the 5-foot-11, 207-pound Pryor before the Jets (1-0) face Andrew Luck and the Colts (0-1) on Monday night in Indianapolis.

The quiet reinvention of Calvin Pryor began when Ryan was sent packing.

In came Bowles. In came a new defense, one in which the 18th overall selection in the 2014 draft again could be a strong safety. And in came a fresh start for Pryor.

"I feel more comfortable doing what I do now," he said. "I'm more locked in on what I have to do."

"We thought he had a really unique skill set," said defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers, "and to watch the way he played the other day was really pleasing. …

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