FLORHAM PARK N.J. - "Last year I came in a little confused," said outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin. "Now out there I'm consistent, second-year, I know the defense, so it's just the whole thing of getting out there and actually doing it."
Last season as a rookie and non-starter, Mauldin recorded 17 tackles and four sacks, while forcing one fumble and recovering a fumble as well. Those are pretty good stats for a third-round pick who was a little discombobulated, still adjusting to the strength and speed of NFL players after spending four seasons at Louisville University.
In college, Mauldin spent his first three seasons at defensive end before moving to outside linebacker his senior year. With one year under his belt, Mauldin is still making the transition and practicing against left tackle Ryan Clady will certainly expedite the process.
"Ryan Clady's a good tackle," said Maudlin. "He's a constant Pro Bowler he's been in the game for a while. Going up against that experience while here on this team makes it easier for me to go against other guys that are maybe fair, smaller, or taller. He's that guy that you want to practice against, and so going into the game it makes it much easier."
On and off the field, Mauldin can look right next to him and see a model of consistency in Jets middle linebacker David Harris.
"He's committed to the game, he's committed to taking care of his body," Mauldin said of Harris. "He's able to go out there and just tell the defense what to do and get us lined up. Being next to someone like that is ideal, you want that type of person on your defense to center us while you're the linebacker."
Mauldin continues to be a sponge, learning all that he can from the wise veteran.
"To be honest, I just take it visually," said Mauldin. "Basically just seeing what he does, I see how long he's in the cold tub, I see how long he's in the hot tub, how he eats and what he does in the weight room. Just basically watching him and sort of mimicking him.
Mauldin has seen a lot of first team reps thus far during training camp. With outside linebackers such as Quinton Coples and Calvin Pace no longer with the team as of this season, fans will see a lot more of Mauldin this upcoming regular season as a starter. The 6-foot-4 259 pounder is strong and athletic which allows him to be a linebacker quasi defensive end type-player. A defensive minded head coach like Todd Bowles can appreciate this.
"He knows my potential, he knows what I can do," Mauldin said of Bowles. "He just wants me to take that and take it on the field and show him that they didn't pick me for a starter for no reason. More than likely right now I would say my strong suit is rushing the passer. Then again I'm still learning the coverage stuff but it's easier now that it's my second year and I know what to do. Now I have to keep repetition at it."
Bowles expects big things from Mauldin this season, and quite frankly, Mauldin expects a big year for himself also.
"All in all [I'm] hoping to get to a Pro Bowl," he said. "I just wanna get up to eight to ten sacks and be able to take it the distance [and] take it further than that."
Marcus Reynolds is a staff writer for Jetsinsider.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@Marcus_JRNL) or email (email@example.com)