Jets rookie Mauldin calls himself ‘Daniel-san’ in relation to veterans

When a player enters the NFL as a rookie, he’s not automatically crowned a starter. He has to earn his spot both in the starting lineup and among his veteran teammates. That’s exactly how New York Jets rookie linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin is looking at his relationship with veteran Calvin Pace.

But rather than call himself a rookie and Pace a veteran, Mauldin put a twist on their competition by referencing "The Karate Kid."

"It is not competitive because I am a pup still," Mauldin said to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. "I am still learning. It is like [Pace is the] sensei and [I am] Daniel-san. Just basically taking all that information from him and hopefully later on down the line when his career is over, I can just take his place."

Mauldin, a third-round pick, is taking the approach that most rookies take. He’s not assuming anything with regards to his role on the team or how much playing time he’ll get. He’s taking what’s given to him and making the best of it.

Of course, to get more playing time, he’ll have to make an impact on the coaching staff — in a positive way. He still has kinks in his game to work out, but head coach Todd Bowles likes what he’s seen from Mauldin thus far.

"He’s got a high motor," Bowles said. "You like the kid’s motor and he’s got some good pass-rush moves. But he has to learn the overall game. He is pretty young that way."

Currently, Mauldin is listed as a second-string outside linebacker behind Pace. That will likely make him a situational pass rusher for the time being until he can refine his game.

"If I know what I am doing, I play a lot more," Mauldin said. "But if I don’t, I will be a situational pass-rusher, so I’ve heard. Just being able to understand what I am doing when I go out there, that will determine my playing time."

(h/t ESPN)