Jets safety Calvin Pryor downplays his lateness to meetings, says he has ‘chip on my shoulder’

FLORHAM PARK – Jets rookie safety Calvin Pryor, a first-round draft pick, admitted Tuesday that he was late to meetings leading up to his benching in Sunday’s win over the Steelers.

While he downplayed the severity of his mistakes, Pryor said he was completely receptive when veteran players spoke to him about it.

“I’m pretty sure it’s not the first time it happened,” Pryor said of players being late to meetings. “Guys have been late. Just have to learn from it and move on.”

Still, Pryor is not pleased with himself or his play, late in his frustrating first season.

“I’ve got a little chip on my shoulder right now,” he said. “Kind of my back is against the wall, so to speak. Because everything, just expectations and just me personally, taking it upon myself, I haven’t been playing the way I should. That’s something (where) I have to look at myself and tell myself and just go do better.”

And how will he do that?

“Let my actions speak,” he said.

Pryor sounded like a young man intent on showing he can move on from his tardiness and perform like a first-round pick. It remains unclear when his next chance to start will come. Jets coach Rex Ryan said he would again start Jaiquawn Jarrett in the team’s next game, Nov. 23 at Buffalo, following the bye week.

“I’m fine with that,” Pryor said of Ryan sticking with Jarrett as a starter.

Ryan insisted Jarrett’s strong performances recently in practices and games resulted in him getting the start over Pryor against the Steelers, though Ryan did not deny that Pryor had been late for meetings.

On Monday night, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, the Jets’ best player and one of their leaders, said a group of players addressed the issue with Pryor.

“He’s a first-round pick, and we expect more,” Wilkerson said.

The Jets planned to rotate Pryor and Jarrett in Sunday’s game, but Jarrett played so well (two interceptions, one sack and one fumble recovery) that coach Rex Ryan stuck with him. Pryor played only on special teams.

“Jarrett had a hot hand, so why not leave him in?” Pryor said. “I wouldn’t have took him out.”

The Jets drafted Pryor to be a hard-hitting, disruptive presence in the middle of their secondary. But because of problems at cornerback, they’ve had to play him in a deep coverage role more than they would’ve liked. Pryor is better closer to the line of scrimmage.

Through 10 games, Pryor has no interceptions, no forced fumbles, no fumble recoveries and just half a sack. Pro Football Focus rates Pryor the 24th-best safety in the NFL, including 56th in pass coverage and fifth against the run.

Occupying an unfamiliar role has contributed to his lack of production, but it sounds like Pryor is also acknowledging that his own shortcomings have played a part, too.

Pryor admitted this season has been “frustrating at times.” Of course, he made it tougher on himself by being late to meetings. Pryor declined to comment on what resulted in him being late, or how often it has happened. Pryor said he did listen when veterans spoke to him about being late and his benching.

“They talked to me, and just told me they’ve been there before, and they were in that same situation,” he said. “This isn’t the first time that it’s happened to a player. They just told me the ways to go about it, and how to get over it and just become better. Those guys are my big brothers. They want what’s best for me. They won’t tell me something that’s wrong. They’ve been a rookie before, so all I can do is just listen to them and just learn from it.”

Earlier this season, the Jets decided not to bench quarterback Geno Smith after he completely missed a meeting during a trip to San Diego. The Jets publicly acknowledged Smith’s missed meeting and said he had never missed one before. They offered no such clarification regarding a report of Pryor’s multiple late arrivals for meetings.

Pryor deflected a question about whether there is a different standard in regard to how the coaches handled Smith’s situation and his situation.

“Man, my main focus is we got a win and I’m feeling good about it,” he said. “I do not want to talk about the negative things and what happened.”

Darryl Slater may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @DarrylSlater. Find Jets on Facebook.


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