FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - Kyle Wilson was angry at himself, frustrated about losing playing time and the confidence of his coaches.
Expected to play a major role in the New York Jets‘ secondary, the first-round draft pick went from heralded rookie to forgotten man in just a few weeks.
“I’ve been playing a long time, so it was definitely new to me,” Wilson said Friday. “I just had to learn quickly and just had to do my best with it.”
Playing with confidence again, the talented cornerback is back in the mix and expected to replace _ or at least rotate with _ Drew Coleman in the nickel and dime spots Sunday at Cleveland.
“He’s back to being the guy that we drafted,” coach Rex Ryan said.
That was the guy whom the Jets couldn’t believe slipped to them at the 29th overall spot. Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine envisioned rotating the athletic and physical defensive back from Boise State with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie in the secondary every week.
Wilson got plenty of work with the first-team defense in training camp while Revis sat out in a contract dispute. Ryan raved about Wilson all summer _ and then, the regular season began. Wilson often appeared overmatched and Ryan thought he lost confidence.
“I just think sometimes as a rookie, you give up completions in this league,” Ryan said. “Everybody does. I just felt like he was at a stage where he expected a guy to complete a ball on him, and it’s like, ‘Come on, kid.’”
The Jets opened the first two games of the season with three defensive backs, including Wilson. After Revis was injured in Week 2 against New England, Wilson started at cornerback against Miami the following week.
“Given how good our other corners are, whoever goes in at that position is going to be an instant target,” Pettine said. “That’s a tough thing for a rookie.”
Wilson was picked on regularly and a few weeks later was no longer in the rotation on defense _ relegated to punt returns and special teams duty while he got his head straightened out.
“His frustration was obvious,” Pettine said. “I mean, he’s a competitor. He’s a very high-character kid and you could tell that it bothered him.”
“I tried to look at it positively,” Wilson said. “I know it could obviously be taken the wrong way, which wouldn’t be beneficial to me as a player.”