Jets OLB Calvin Pace: ‘The window is small to play this game’

In the first year of playing in coach Rex Ryan’s aggressive defensive scheme, outside linebacker Calvin Pace thrived as a pass rusher, recording a team-leading eight sacks. It was also career high for Pace, a former Arizona Cardinal entering his third season in New York. Pace, who turns 30 in October, talked to Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer about his training regimen, how much fun it is to be a Jet and the team’s fans. 

The offseason is as important as the regular season for a veteran like Calvin Pace.
The offseason is as important as the regular season for a veteran like Calvin Pace.

Sporting News: So we hear you’re intense about your offseason training. Just what does that include?
Calvin Pace: It’s crazy. It varies from year to year. A lot of it is rehab. You want to ease your way into it. My goal is to bulk up to help my explosion and power. Some of it involves Olympic-style lifting. As a pass rusher, you want to right combination of a strong upper body and agility.

SN: How critical is it to be well-conditioned going into the grind of an NFL season?
CP: When you’re playing at the highest level, as the years go by, it can get harder to get out of bed. It’s especially challenging on a Monday (after games). Now it’s just getting harder with the schedule with more Thursday games, the quicker turnaround after Sunday. You just have to keep preparing more with your strength and conditioning.

SN: What was the 2009 season like for you?
CP: It’s by far the most fun year I’ve ever had in the NFL. Coach just came in from Day 1 with a great demeanor. We all stayed upbeat, and there was a joking atmosphere. Our goal was the Super Bowl, and it almost came to fruition. How well the defense played spoke for itself. It was good to be aggressive blitzing, and Rex is great in coming up with new blitzes.

SN: What is it like playing alongside inside linebacker Bart Scott?
CP: He’s a really good guy and great player. He’s had a lot of success in the defense, but he doesn’t go around thinking above the rest of us. He does talk a lot–he can go an entire practice and not shut up. I have a blast playing next to him.

SN: On March 4, the Jets traded for San Diego cornerback Antonio Cromartie. What does Cromartie’s addition mean for the defense?
CP: We already have an elite corner in Darrelle Revis, and now teams just can’t pick on the other corner. Cromartie is a hungry player, and he falls in line with your schemes. Putting them together will help us better lock down both receivers and give those of us up front more time to get to the quarterback.

SN: What was it like in the playoffs with the offense coming on strong to help your side of the ball?
CP: It’s funny, because we would think, everyone on defense, that we don’t want to let the offense down. They picked up their play, and in some ways they carried us.

SN: How big of a challenge is it to come back in ’10 and remain a playoff team in the AFC East?
CP: It’s tough. It’s one of the best divisions. It’s very physical on defense, yet at the same time there are some very explosive players, such Ted Ginn, Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Lee Evans. There’s very little dropoff from one team to the next. There is little room for mistakes. To get back to the playoffs, you can’t let up and you have to win on the road.

SN: How has it been playing for the Jets and their fans?
CP: When I signed with the Jets two years ago, I thought about that, and if that would help me do well. The people here are passionate, and you get really excited playing for the tem. That J-E-T-S chant gets you pumped up. It’s 24-hour football for these fans.

SN: What do you like to do when not playing football or training?
CP: Really, I like to do nothing, just be grazing or unwinding. It’s time that you’re supposed take off, slow everything down, so that you can regroup and help you come back stronger for the next season.

SN: How critical is that to help you recharge and refocus?
CP: It’s very important, the less you need to work to handle every season. The window is small to play this game, and I constantly think about what my legacy will be. You want to be a successful player and hopefully a Super Bowl champion. You need to rest your body enough.

This story appears in the March 29 edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only daily digital sports newspaper, sign up today for free.

In the first year of playing in coach Rex Ryan’s aggressive defensive scheme, outside linebacker Calvin Pace thrived as a pass rusher, recording a team-leading eight sacks. It was also career high for Pace, a former Arizona Cardinal entering his third season in New York. Pace, who turns 30 in October, talked to Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer about his training regimen, how much fun it is to be a Jet and the team’s fans. 

The offseason is as important as the regular season for a veteran like Calvin Pace.
The offseason is as important as the regular season for a veteran like Calvin Pace.

Sporting News: So we hear you’re intense about your offseason training. Just what does that include?
Calvin Pace: It’s crazy. It varies from year to year. A lot of it is rehab. You want to ease your way into it. My goal is to bulk up to help my explosion and power. Some of it involves Olympic-style lifting. As a pass rusher, you want to right combination of a strong upper body and agility.

SN: How critical is it to be well-conditioned going into the grind of an NFL season?
CP: When you’re playing at the highest level, as the years go by, it can get harder to get out of bed. It’s especially challenging on a Monday (after games). Now it’s just getting harder with the schedule with more Thursday games, the quicker turnaround after Sunday. You just have to keep preparing more with your strength and conditioning.

SN: What was the 2009 season like for you?
CP: It’s by far the most fun year I’ve ever had in the NFL. Coach just came in from Day 1 with a great demeanor. We all stayed upbeat, and there was a joking atmosphere. Our goal was the Super Bowl, and it almost came to fruition. How well the defense played spoke for itself. It was good to be aggressive blitzing, and Rex is great in coming up with new blitzes.

SN: What is it like playing alongside inside linebacker Bart Scott?
CP: He’s a really good guy and great player. He’s had a lot of success in the defense, but he doesn’t go around thinking above the rest of us. He does talk a lot–he can go an entire practice and not shut up. I have a blast playing next to him.

SN: On March 4, the Jets traded for San Diego cornerback Antonio Cromartie. What does Cromartie’s addition mean for the defense?
CP: We already have an elite corner in Darrelle Revis, and now teams just can’t pick on the other corner. Cromartie is a hungry player, and he falls in line with your schemes. Putting them together will help us better lock down both receivers and give those of us up front more time to get to the quarterback.

SN: What was it like in the playoffs with the offense coming on strong to help your side of the ball?
CP: It’s funny, because we would think, everyone on defense, that we don’t want to let the offense down. They picked up their play, and in some ways they carried us.

SN: How big of a challenge is it to come back in ’10 and remain a playoff team in the AFC East?
CP: It’s tough. It’s one of the best divisions. It’s very physical on defense, yet at the same time there are some very explosive players, such Ted Ginn, Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Lee Evans. There’s very little dropoff from one team to the next. There is little room for mistakes. To get back to the playoffs, you can’t let up and you have to win on the road.

SN: How has it been playing for the Jets and their fans?
CP: When I signed with the Jets two years ago, I thought about that, and if that would help me do well. The people here are passionate, and you get really excited playing for the tem. That J-E-T-S chant gets you pumped up. It’s 24-hour football for these fans.

SN: What do you like to do when not playing football or training?
CP: Really, I like to do nothing, just be grazing or unwinding. It’s time that you’re supposed take off, slow everything down, so that you can regroup and help you come back stronger for the next season.

SN: How critical is that to help you recharge and refocus?
CP: It’s very important, the less you need to work to handle every season. The window is small to play this game, and I constantly think about what my legacy will be. You want to be a successful player and hopefully a Super Bowl champion. You need to rest your body enough.

This story appears in the March 29 edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only daily digital sports newspaper, sign up today for free.

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