When a front-seven player gets a new position label in a Rex Ryan defense, it's never definitive. Ryan often has his defensive ends lining up at tackle, the outside linebackers setting up shop at the end of the line and his safeties lurking over the pre-snapped football.
A change in label just might mean the player will take on that new role just a little more often than he has in the past.
Such is the case with Quinton Coples, a "former" defensive end who regularly lined up over center as a rookie last year but is now an "outside linebacker." (photo: Pedro Cambra, Flickr)
"I think it was a plan for Rex long-term. Last year he was just seeing how the defensive end thing worked out," Coples told New York Jets.com's Eric Allen last week. "When I was coming out at my pro day at the University of North Carolina, he had me do drops and linebacker drills as well as defensive line drills.
"I think once he drafted me, he already had that plan that eventually I would be an outside linebacker."
Even though Coples jokes that the team's defensive linemen now look at him as a "traitor," Coples sees an advantage in standing up rather than taking a three-point stance. He said it will give him a "head start on getting to the quarterback" and in reading what the offense is about to run.
Coples is part of a young, talented and hungry Jets defensive front. He was drafted in the first round a year after 2011 first-round defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson and before the team's first of two 2013 first-rounders in Sheldon Richardson.
Gang Green also recently added pass-rushing specialist and former San Diego Charger Antwan Barnes to set up shop at outside linebacker next to incumbent starting middle linebacker David Harris and the recently-promoted second-year 'backer DeMario Davis.
In somewhat limited time last season, the 6-6, 285-pound Coples tallied 30 tackles, 5.5 sacks and two passes defensed.
Following an up and down rookie season along the defensive line, Quinton Coples is spending OTAs adjusting to life as an outside linebacker.