Coming off a near career-threatening injury, safety Rontez Miles is out to show that he’s back and better than ever.
After spending most of the season on the practice squad, Rontez Miles was about to get his chance. He was elevated to the 53-man roster and was expected to play in the Jets’ last home game of the season against their biggest rival, the New England Patriots. Then, a freak accident not only almost cost Miles his football career, but also, his right leg.
“It was shocking man, it was mind-boggling man. It kind of shocked me it put me at a standstill I was somewhat kind of nervous,” Miles said of the first time he was told of the severity of his injury.
“I was about to get my second chance, second debut and actually probably play on defense this game so I was real excited to get out there and play. It kind of shocked me man. I wouldn’t say it put me down, I didn’t get discouraged, I didn’t give up on what I was going to do but it definitely was shocking man. [It] kind of knocked me down a couple notches,” Miles added.
Even with the adversity Miles was facing, he didn’t get down on himself to the point where he stopped working to get better. In fact, he used this latest obstacle as added motivation to get back on the field.
“Definitely man, definitely gave me more motivation,” Miles said. “I just knew ‘alright as soon as I get done with this we’ll get back to it’ and it was definitely motivation from there.”
After the surgery, Miles, who spends his offseasons in Pittsburgh says he rehabbed everyday for almost a month straight but was careful not to do anything too strenuous without being under the watchful eye of Jets Head Athletic Trainer John Melody, who Miles credits for his speedy and successful recovery.
“I rehabbed almost everyday for a month straight while I was home. I think it was about a month straight,” Miles said. “I really did a lot of light stuff like jogging, [I] tried to do a little uphill running. I couldn’t do too much because the trainers wanted me to be up here [at the Jets’ Florham Park training facility] when I tried a lot of stuff so I came up here early.”
Miles said he came up one or two weeks early to run some tests for Melody. Melody put Miles through mobility and agility testing and then said the words Miles was waiting to hear: That he was “full-go.”
“Once he said I was full go it was like a big weight lifted off my shoulders,” Miles said of Melody’s news.
This year Miles is on the other side of an injury. His good friend, safety Antonio Allen suffered a torn Achilles during the early portion of training camp. Now Allen’s reps are going to Miles, and while Miles is grateful for the extra reps, he feels for Allen because he knows exactly how it feels to suffer a season-ending injury.
“It’s more reps than I usually got the previous two years I’ve been here these are the are most reps I got. Shout out Double A [Allen] man. Him going down and everything, it’s a sad situation for me to get more reps [because] he’s a good friend of mine,” Miles said.
Miles has used Allen’s injury as an added source of motivation because he is now not only playing for himself, but for his close friend.
“I still talk to him all the time and I try to do it for him I try to go out there and play how I know he would play, Miles said. “He motivates me still from the side.”
In his extra reps, Miles has shined. He has always been known as a hard hitter but his improvement in technique has been noticeable and he has shown that despite his injury, he is still as athletic as ever. As Miles puts it: He’s “becoming a pro.”
“I’ve been getting more reps and I’m starting to be put in situations, Coach Bowles puts us in a lot of situations and I’m becoming a pro I can say man.”
The presence of new Jets head coach Todd Bowles has been key for Miles’ development. Bowles, who played safety in the NFL for eight seasons has been like an extra defensive coordinator or secondary coach for Miles.
“It’s definitely like having an extra D-coordinator also an extra secondary coach as well. He’s very hands on and he’s telling you basically what it is you need to know,” Miles said of Bowles’ presence.
“There’s not a lot of running around or beating around the bush. He lets you know straight up: ‘This is what it is.’ And when you listen to a guy who actually done it, it hits home a little more. “
Now healthy, and a virtual lock to make the Jets’ 53-man roster, Miles said his goals for the season are to not only to become the best player he can be, but lend support, in any way possible to his teammates.
“My goals are to get better as a player first and also just to support my team however needed,” Miles said. “Whether it’s special teams or being on the sideline and carrying my guys on through the games…is definitely something I want to accomplish. But, really just to support my team wherever and whenever needed.”