Jets wide receiver Devin Smith hopes he can make an impact on the field in 2018 after suffering ACL injuries that caused him to miss the 2017 season and most of 2016.
"I'm hoping that the injury bug is gone," Smith said, according to NJ.com's Darryl Slater. "It has been frustrating. It's given me some time to reflect a little bit. It made me miss the game a lot more. It made me appreciate the game a lot more. I feel like mentally, I'm a lot stronger in that aspect, because of these setbacks."
Smith has only appeared in 14 games since New York drafted him in the second round in 2015. He played 10 games as a rookie, catching nine passes for 115 yards and a touchdown, but his season was cut short with his first injury in December 2015. He returned to play four games in 2016, but tore his ACL again in May 2017.
"I'm just taking it day by day, just keeping my faith and knowing my time is coming," he said. "It has been tough. There are days where I sit back and ask, 'Why is this happening to me?' I try to just look at the positives and see that I'm still able to play this game and I am getting healthy."
From 2008 to 2016, no Jets second-round pick truly panned out in the NFL.
Offensive tackle Vlad Ducasse only played in two games as a rookie in 2010 and has been with a different team in each of the past four years. Wide receiver Stephen Hill (2012) only had 45 catches for 594 yards and four touchdowns in 23 games. Quarterback Geno Smith (2013) threw more interceptions than touchdowns, while Christian Hackenberg (2016) never took an NFL snap. And tight end Jace Amaro (2014) has only played in three games since 2015.
But Devin Smith isn't letting the "bust" label get to him.
"I don't let it bother me," he said. "I know what type of work that I'm putting in. I know what I'm trying to get out of this."
With Ohio State, he recorded 121 receptions for 2,503 receiving yards and 30 touchdowns from 2011 to 2014, and he is confident he can stand out amid the Jets' crowded receiving corps that also includes Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, Terrelle Pryor and ArDarius Stewart, among others.
"An opportunity," Smith said, "is all I need."