Brooks hopes big game is just start of good things with Jets
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Terrence Brooks watched as the ball seemed to float through the air, right to where he was running.
And the New York Jets safety couldn’t believe it.
A moment later, an ecstatic Brooks was dashing across the field and celebrating his second interception of the game, which helped seal a 20-6 victory over the Miami Dolphins last Sunday.
”Honestly, man, I just felt so comfortable,” Brooks said Friday about the play. ”Everything was just so slow in that moment. I don’t know, man, but I can’t even explain that moment to you. You don’t hear anything, you don’t feel anything.
”I felt like it was just me and the ball the whole time.”
Brooks, who was selected the AFC defensive player of the week for his performance, got his big day started midway through the third quarter when he picked off Matt Haack’s fake punt attempt that was intended for Leonte Carroo. Brooks said Jets special teams coordinator Brant Boyer had his unit practice against that play all week leading up to the game, so the Jets were ready as soon as they saw how the Dolphins lined up.
”We all recognized it and everybody communicated,” Brooks said. ”I was just fortunate enough that he threw it in my direction. A lot of people were like, `He should’ve knocked that down.’ After I made the play and saw it, I was like, `Maybe I should’ve knocked it down.”’
Then, Brooks broke out into a wide grin.
”But at the same time, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the award, so there’s a give and take. But for the most part, that play was awesome.”
New York got the ball at Miami’s 49 instead of the 28, but Josh McCown and the offense marched the ball down the field to set up Chandler Catanzaro’s 22-yard field goal that gave the Jets a 20-0 lead.
”I feel like it got the crowd going and got the team going and that’s what you want to do,” said Brooks, whose only other NFL interception came last season with the Eagles.
Brooks is one of the newest Jets on a roster filled with newcomers. He was traded to New York from Philadelphia for cornerback Dexter McDougle on Aug. 27, four days before the Jets’ preseason finale against the Eagles.
”It was kind of crazy,” Brooks recalled of hearing the news. ”It was just a regular day and I was eating my breakfast and they came in and tapped me and told me to come with them. I was like, `Man, I just had one of the best training camps ever.’ I thought I was getting cut, so I was like, I don’t know what to do now?
”So, I go up there and they’re like, `Hey, you’ve been traded to the Jets.’ I was like, `OK, that’s OK. I can deal with that.”’
It was a trade of once highly touted players who hadn’t quite yet lived up to expectations. Brooks was drafted in the third round in 2014 out of Florida State by Baltimore, 79th overall – one pick ahead of McDougle. With the Jets, Brooks is a backup on defense behind rookie starters Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, and a key contributor on special teams.
”We knew he was a tough guy,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said. ”We knew he could be a ballhawk and make plays and help us from a depth standpoint. As he got here, he’s showed it. He picked everything up pretty good and he started playing more and more. He was good on special teams and we decided to incorporate him on some of the defenses.”
Brooks spent his first two seasons with the Ravens and played with the Eagles last year. He had 19 overall tackles as a rookie, and that’s still his single-season high despite him missing the final two games that year with a torn knee ligament. Brooks had four total tackles in 11 games last season with the Eagles.
”When I first got here, they were like, `We’re going to play you,’ and that’s all I needed to hear,” Brooks said. ”That’s what I’ve been working for for so long. I got that chance and got an opportunity to get out on the field and show people what I can do. I feel that was only a small part, though, and I can do a lot more.”
When he was in Philadelphia, Brooks picked the brain of nine-time Pro Bowl selection Brian Dawkins, who is a football operations executive with the Eagles. He still keeps in touch with Dawkins and constantly pulls up old games of other great safeties such as Ed Reed, trying to glean something from the way they played.
”To me, I felt like I’ve always had that in me,” said Brooks, who didn’t start playing safety until his junior year at Florida State. ”It’s just the point of other guys giving me that chance. That’s why I’m so thankful to be here. The coaches believe in me and want to get me on the field and they like what I do. I want to be here, and I want to be here for a long time, man. Hopefully, we can make that happen. I just want to keep improving each week and bring something to this team.”
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