Starter Or Not, Conner Set To Terminate

He was the Jets' starting fullback for but a minute, but John Conner is being diplomatic about the opportunity he has for snaps this year.

Rex Ryan said on HBO's reality show Hard Knocks that he'd be shocked if he didn't enter the regular season with two fullbacks.

Well, that nearly happened.

This past weekend, 15-year veteran fullback Tony Richardson was released by the team in a salary dump move as the team prepared to sign holdout cornerback Darrelle Revis to a new four-year contract. Richardson, however was resigned a day later in a move that brought a sigh of relief from Jets Nation. Still John Conner, the rookie fullback out of Kentucky, likely knows that his time is now and he is looking forward to the regular season opener a week from Monday. Conner was a fifth round pick in this year's NFL Draft and was the highest selected pure fullback in the draft.

"I feel really prepared. Just going through camp and OTA's I feel the offense is coming to me a lot easier now and I feel like I'm ready," Conner said.

Conner mentioned he did see a lot more reps in practice on Monday morning, part and parcel of the team being without veteran Richardson for one day. Throughout training camp and the entirety of preseason from mini-camp through today, Conner has seen consistent snaps with the first team. Monday, however, was a bit more intense in that department.

"I got a lot of reps today in practice which is great learning for me. Pretty much I got to keep up with my playbook and look over the game plan and be ready," said Conner.

When he heard the news of the release of team leader Tony Richardson, Conner admitted he was a little surprised.The fullback didn't learn about the move until late in the weekend.

"A little bit," Conner said if the release of Richardson caught him by surprise. "He's been great for the organization. He's been a great leader. If he comes back that's be great for the team. Great for me to continue to learn from him. But if not I'm ready." Conner, however, does realize the move works out for him either way as he could have been the team's starter in his rookie year or have another season to develop behind a former All-Pro. Regardless, he has impressed head coach Rex Ryan through the start of his rookie year.

"This guy is a player and he's going out there and smashing people," Ryan said. "Will he throw and miss a couple? Throw a no-hitter? Every once in a while, but if you get in his way, this guy, he's punished people."

Matt Whitfield covers the Jets for

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