New York Jets defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis was released from prison yesterday, serving the first portion of his jail sentence stemming from a malicious wounding charge on the campus of Hampton University. Kenrick Ellis was allowed to participate in a work release program while in jail, giving him the opportunity to work with Hampton football coaches during his incarceration. The Jets are hoping Kenrick Ellis can contribute along the defensive line this season.
New York Jets second year defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis has been released from jail early and will continue serving his sentence next spring. That gives Kenrick Ellis some time to prepare for Jets training camp, which will open July 26 at SUNY Cortland. As part of a work release program, Ellis was allowed to work with Hampton football coaches while serving his sentence in Virginia.
Kenrick Ellis showed promise in the Monday night game against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium last season. That performance earned him a start the following week against the San Diego Chargers, but he was felled by an injury early in that game. Kenrick Ellis did return later in the season, but whether due to lingering effects of the injury, rust after time off or some other reason, he didn't have the same impact.
The Jets got a major bargain when they drafted Kenrick Ellis in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He was rated as a first round talent, but with the trial hanging over his head and previous issues off the field when he was a part of the South Carolina football team, he was seen as a major risk. There were even rumors of him possibly being deported as a result of the malicious wounding trial.
In the end, Kenrick Ellis has missed virtually nothing in terms of Jets workouts and practices. The trial and eventual sentence didn't take away from his commitments with the team whatsoever, making the pick look brilliant in hindsight. If the Jets can harness the immense physical talent of Kenrick Ellis and refine his technique while teaching him to play with better leverage and improve his play recognition, he could truly be a force. There aren't many guys out there walking around at 6-4, 346 pounds with athleticism.
There's playing time to be had in the near future for the Jets up front. With the shift towards more four-man fronts, obviously there's more plays to be had for defensive linemen as opposed to previous years when three-man fronts dominated the defensive play-calling. With Mike DeVito set to be a free agent after this season, the Jets would love for Kenrick Ellis to prove that he can be a big part of their youth movement along the defensive line. A four-man defensive line featuring Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Sione Pouha and Kenrick Ellis could be a major issue for opposing offenses.
For now, the Jets will be looking for growth. Expect Kenrick Ellis to get some time in the rotation on the defensive line and in run-stopping packages. Being that he won't miss any training camp time, Kenrick Ellis has a great chance to be a contributor this season for the Jets defensively.
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