Another week has gone by, and another Jets win transpired. This team is simply clicking everywhere, and while the offensive side of the ball has garnered a lot of praise, it has been the defense that continues to step up and prove that they are one of the best units in the league.
And that's come with injuries to starters like Avery Williamson, C.J. Mosley and Trumaine Johnson, to name a few. Depth players have had to step up, and lately, none has been more noticeable than rookie CB Bless Austin.
The Rutgers product has been a fan favorite during this three-game win streak, as injuries to Darryl Roberts, along with Johnson, have given Austin the opportunity to make a good first impression on defense.
His first taste of the NFL came against the Giants where he had three solo tackles, one pass defended and caused a fumble. From there, his snap count increased against the Redskins, where he was rated the Jets' top defender. And during the win over the Raiders, Austin played all 59 defensive snaps for the Jets where he racked up five tackles and his third pass breakup of the season.
Coming out of the sixth round in this year's draft, many are already looking at Austin like a draft steal. His sample size is small, but his play has spoken for itself thus far.
For SNY Jets analyst Ray Lucas, though, this is exactly what he expected from Austin.
"This kid -- I said it the first time I saw him -- I said he was going to play on Sundays and some people looked at me like I was crazy," Lucas told SNY. "Let me tell you why: the guy had a first-round grade. But his injury -- who has the luck to blow your knee out twice? It's insane."
A Rutgers alumni himself, Lucas has been working as a color analyst for Rutgers football's radio broadcast for years now, and immediately loved what he saw from Austin. He explained how he makes sure to watch pregame warmups for both teams, and Austin stood out as someone who was always ready to go.
"I saw a guy who had the swag -- that's the first thing that came to mind when I watched him warm up," Lucas said, which emulated what Jets S Jamal Adams said about the young corner.
To get a feel for that swagger, just watch this Rutgers practice where he was mic'd up...
But Austin's injury history was the main reason he dropped in the draft. He played just five games in his last two years for the Scarlet Knights due to two torn ACLs that required season-ending surgery.
As NFL experts and scouts created their draft profiles, NFL.com's Lance Zierlein heard this from one NFL executive about Austin: "He's long and can cover, but he's a skinny kid who might not be able to stay healthy in a very physical game. That's the reality here."
Clearly, that executive wasn't the only one thinking that way during the Draft, and Austin uses all the negative comments as fuel. Literally.
The Post's Steve Serby learned that Austin was taking screenshots of negative comments he received just so he can go back and look if he ever gets complacent.
"I remember somebody had commented, 'I don't know why the Jets took this guy, he barely has a leg.' That's one thing I've seen, and that pretty much stung," Austin admitted. "Even thinking about it now pretty much gets me angry."
But the reality many believed would occur for Austin in the NFL hasn't turned out that way so far. Austin hasn't let his injury history change anything about his game. He's still willing to step up and make tackles, while guarding his receiver on the outside.
And that should continue for the Jets, even though Darryl Roberts is expected to be back at practice this week. Austin has an 87.5 Pro Football Focus grade after allowing eight receptions for 84 yards on his 14 targets this season. He has also allowed an 87.2 passer rating. With the Bengals on the schedule this week, Austin may even have an opportunity to collect his first interception with the troubles they've had on offense.
Everything is trending in an upward direction for the rookie, and if he continues to produce the way he has, Austin may become a mainstay in the Jets' secondary for years to come. That's why New York took a flyer on him in the first place, and Lucas knows he will always give his all to prove them right.
"Is he a diamond in the rough? People might say yeah. I say no," Lucas explained. "I say injuries have given this kid motivation. ...This is the perfect opportunity for him to prove that he's a rare talent.
"He gets after it. He has no fear."