FLORHAM PARK: Ok, quick recap:
In the Jets victory last Sunday over the Dolphins, Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw a pass over the middle on third down intended for wideout Rishard Matthews. The throw led Matthews a bit too far over the middle, allowing Jets safety Calvin Pryor to come in and lay a big hit on Matthews.
The hit dislodged the ball and forced a Miami punt. Knowing he'd just made a big play, Pryor celebrated.
The issue? Matthews was injured on the hit, and Ryan Tannehill was not happy with the celebration. In turn, the quarterback called Pryor "classless" at his post-game press conference. Upon hearing this, Pryor took to Twitter to defend himself.
Caught up? Ok, good. Because here's the latest round in the Pryor vs. Tannehill heavyweight bout. Speaking to the media for the first time since the incident, Pryor offered his take once again.
"Don't fault me for the big hit. For him to call me classless? I feel he was trying to downgrade me a little bit. He could have come and said something to me after the game. But don't talk to the media about me."
In his second NFL season, Pryor has taken a monumental step forward from where he was a year ago. Playing his more natural "box safety" position, Pryor is showing what made him the Jets first-round pick in 2014. He's been a physical presence on defense, as was displayed on his hit of Matthews, and is quickly becoming the "tone setter" of the unit. In the locker room after that victory over Miami, Jets wideout Brandon Marshall likened him to ex-Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.
The issue that Pryor is having now is walking the fine line between "tone-setter," and "dirty-player." Because he's constantly looking to drop his shoulder, it's easy to get the two mixed up.
But Pryor was adamant that what happened last Sunday wasn't a bad or dirty play. It was football, and specifically what he likes about it.
"Things happen," Pryor said. "It wasn't a cheap shot at all. Quarterback threw a bad ball, and I was there to make a play. That's what happened."
With each big hit Pryor puts on the opposition, he realizes there will be some that continue to take offense to it. And that's ok. Villain or hero makes no different to the Louisville product.
"If people people wanna make me out to be the bad guy," Pryor said with a smile, "I'm fine with that."