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NY Jets elevate fan-favorite defensive tackle from practice squad

Tanzel Smart, NY Jets
Tanzel Smart, New York Jets, Getty Images

Tanzel Smart is being elevated from New York Jets’ practice squad

The New York Jets will play their first game without injured defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins this Sunday. To make up for the loss of Rankins, the Jets are elevating defensive tackle Tanzel Smart from the practice squad, according to the team’s official Twitter account. Offensive tackle Conor McDermott is also being elevated.

Smart has developed into somewhat of a fan-favorite among Jets fans for his standout performances over the last two preseasons. Between 2021 and 2022, Smart racked up 13 pressures, two sacks, and 16 total tackles over six preseason games. He consistently popped off the tape as one of the Jets’ brightest standouts in exhibition action.

Smart’s 2022 preseason was particularly strong. He tied for third in the NFL among defensive tackles with 9 pressures. Smart also made 8 total tackles without being credited for any missed tackles, tying him for the ninth-most tackles without a miss among DTs.

Unfortunately for Smart, his efforts were not enough to land him on the Jets’ active roster for either of the past two regular seasons. Smart has not played a regular season game for the Jets since he made three appearances near the end of the 2020 season; he only played 26 snaps across those three games.

The 28-year-old is in his sixth NFL season after signing with the Rams as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane in 2017. Smart played three seasons with the Rams, appearing in 31 games. Current Jets teammates John Franklin-Myers and Lamarcus Joyner shared time with Smart in Los Angeles.

Smart was released by the Rams in 2020 and would spend time on the Bills and Browns’ practice squads. The Jets added him to their practice squad in October 2020 and he has been with the team ever since.

Standing at 6-foot-1 and 295 pounds, Smart is on the smaller side for a defensive tackle, but his explosiveness off the line of scrimmage makes him a good fit for the Jets’ defensive line. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, over the last two preseasons, Smart averaged a pass-rush get-off time (how long it takes the defender to cross the line of scrimmage after the snap) of 0.95 seconds. For perspective, that’s about 9% faster than the 2022 NFL regular-season average for defensive tackles, which is 1.04 seconds.

Smart projects to join Quinnen Williams, Nathan Shepherd, and Solomon Thomas in the Jets’ four-man rotation of pure defensive tackles on Sunday.

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Peter Buell
1 year ago

Would be nice to “find” another inside piece to the Jets line and hopefully open space for the LBs to close and stop runs for short yardage.
Gotta love not only the stars but the depth Douglass has managed to obtain.
This game is a season definer.. I feel the Jets were screwed with the schedule they have this year coming of a season with 4 wins.
The Jets have a few games they should absolutely win but never should have had to face such a difficult schedule when you picked 4th in the draft due to how bad you were the prior season.
Throw in 3 more cupcakes and that’s what it should have looked like