Former South Tahoe football player Garrett McIntyre has patiently paid his football dues for the past 10 years.
On Sunday, that decade of hard work and walk-on or backup roles finally paid off. Jets coach Rex Ryan confirmed that McIntyre will serve as starting linebacker for Quinton Coples, who is out indefinitely for medical reasons.
“Garrett, I think he’s really earned that right,” Ryan said. “I think, No. 1, his work ethic is phenomenal. He’s a guy that’s always one of our top lifters and top-conditioned athletes.”
McIntyre has also earned more of a leader status as he enters his third season with the Jets.
“He challenges guys. In the game, we had a corner cover a running back and Garrett had to cover the wideout in the slot. Never flinched, just got the job done, even thought that wasn’t an ideal situation for us,” Ryan said. “Garrett’s just a guy who’s smart, knows the defense, we can plug him in a lot of different spots and he does a tremendous job.”
Last year, McIntyre recorded 3.5 sacks, but that was coming off the bench. This year, Ryan said he expects to see big things from the 6-foot-3, 255-pound outside linebacker.
The road to NFL starter was a long one for McIntyre. He joined the Fresno State football team as a walk-on in 2002. He then went undrafted out of Fresno in 2006, and split the season with Seattle, Arizona and Tennessee.
He then moved to arena football with the San Jose SaberCats before spending two years in the Canadian Football League, where he posted 51 tackles and 9 sacks. The Jets signed him in January 2011.
“The more you can do, the more you’re worth,” McIntyre said he always reminds himself.
Coples, who led the team with 5.5 sacks last season as a rookie, reportedly underwent a medical procedure on Tuesday.
“I don’t know the particulars right now on surgery,” Ryan said. “We just know that he’s out for at least the preseason games. We’re putting it that he’s out indefinitely because we don’t know exactly the time frame on it.”