One of the more intriguing storylines heading into Jets training camp this summer is the development of Valentine Holmes -- the Australian Rugby League star that decided to pass up a multi-million deal to get his shot in the NFL.
Holmes is with the Jets via the International Pathway Program this season, where he will be the team's 91st roster spot in training camp and work as the 11th man on the practice squad during the season. But he must first learn the ins and outs of the league before competing for a position.
Having spent time in Florham Park for voluntary workouts, Holmes was asked what he believes the hardest part about getting accustomed to the NFL has been so far. And as one would expect, it's the X's and O's.
"It's more the playbook," he told newyorkjets.com's Ethan Greenberg. "That's one thing that you have to knock down here. You have to learn what you're doing, what everyone is doing pretty much. You have to remember all of that in case something happens. The physical side of the things on the field I'm not too worried about. It's just learning that playbook."
Holmes is confident that his rugby background will have him used to the type of grind in between the hashes will be. But he isn't completely inept when it comes to understanding football.
For three months, the 23-year-old was in Florida training as part of the Pathway Program, and it turns out he was working alongside former Jet Leon Washington. These two immediately hit it off due to Holmes expected position as a running back/wide receiver that is mainly viewed as a returner. Washington held that same role with the Jets.
Holmes was a fullback in rugby, but he didn't have the same tasks that football fullbacks have. Instead, the speedy, compact player basically worked as a return man would in the NFL.
"You're the guy way down the back of the field and you have to catch those kicks and try to take them back for a touchdown, or a try back at home is what we call it," he said. "I feel like I'll fill into that role quite easily and running back, I did a lot of work with Leon Washnigton. He sees me as a natural ball runner, and I can run routes from the back and catch the ball as well. I'm really excited to train and learn from these guys here."
There is still more offseason OTAs left before Holmes gets to experience his first NFL training camp, but he is already excited to be around some of the best players in the game. Being a running back, he'll get to work with Le'Veon Bell, a player he gave high praise to.
"The new signings that they've had the past couple of years, they're on a rise here and they're going places," he said. "Le'Veon Bell is a well-classed player in that position. I can't wait to get behind him and train with him and watch him and try to learn from him. They have some great players on the defensive side as well. It's going to be an exciting time."
As Holmes drinks in the NFL this season, his real shot will come after the season when he is no longer a roster exemption. He will have to make the team outright.