If there is one player Jets S Jamal Adams would like to emulate in his career, it would certainly be one of the best to ever play the safety position.
Former Steelers S Troy Polamalu, an eight-time Pro Bowler and four-time First Team All-Pro member, changed how safeties were perceived in the NFL. Polamalu wasn't just a ballhawk as his position was normally asked to do, but he was relentless on the blitz as well as run defense.
Adams says it was Polamalu's smarts along with his physicality that makes him his role model now that he is in the NFL.
"I'm a big Troy Polamalu fan," Adams told Newsday's Bob Glauber on Wednesday after the team's second day of mandatory minicamp. "It's his instincts. He let the game come to him. If he felt something, he was going to do it. He was not only physical, but he was so smart in knowing the game, knowing what his defense was going to do, knowing what the [opposing] offense was going to do beforehand. He always had a jump on the ball, a jump on the play."
Adams has a long and tough road ahead if he wishes to be on the same pedastal as Polamalu when he hangs up his cleats. He took a good first step in that direction during his rookie season, where he was an All-Rookie selection after recording 83 combined tackles and two sacks. He didn't record his first career interception, though he had a few chances to haul one in.
But Adams has already put his rookie year in the past. Entering his second season, he wants to see a big jump from what he produced last year.
"Year one to year two should be a difference," he said. "That's what I'm shooting for."
Like Polamalu, Adams is looking to dissect opposing offenses this season, and truly embrace the mental side of the game. That is what he believes will make him better.
"As a safety, as a corner, as a defensive player period, you have to play with your eyes to make a lot of plays," he explained. "When you don't play with great eyes, you miss out on plays, or you get beat. I'm just staying on myself, I'm studying, I'm being patient when I'm back there."
Though minicamp will break after the Jets' final practice on Thursday, Adams' determination to have a better second year prompted his decision to not take a break from preparing for next season.
In fact, Adams believes the season has already started in his eyes.
"It's season time now," he said. "There's not point in taking a day off. Just go right back to work."
Adams already solidified himself as a key cog in this young Jets' defense, and if New York truly wants to turn their program around this season, he will need to perform consistently. Adams has a good feeling about what this group can accomplish this year.
"I think we're jelling as a group," he said about the defense. "We just have to fix some things here and there and be more consistent. As long as we're consistent, talking, playing with that swagger and energy, we'll be pretty good. Everyone on the defense is starting to realize we can put something special together."
In his second season, Polamalu posted 73 tackles, five interceptions, three sacks, and two fumble recoveries with one for a touchdown. Adams must put in a lot of work this season to match those numbers, but from what he has been preaching all offseason, he won't back down from the challenge.