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NY Jets’ Hard Knocks hero and fan favorite comes back home

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

There were some New York Jets players who endeared themselves to fans on Hard Knocks, none more than this player

The New York Jets may not have wanted to be on Hard Knocks, but they certainly embraced it once it was there. For Jets fans, the biggest treat was getting to know the personalities of some of their players. The spotlight was on Aaron Rodgers, but there were other players who featured endearing roles in the show.

Now, one of the unlucky ones who did not make the cut is back with the team and has a chance to carve out a decent role.

The Jets signed defensive tackle Tanzel Smart to their active roster from the practice squad. He tweeted in style to celebrate the moment.

Smart, of course, made his name by calling a charcuterie board “car-coochie” in front of the Hard Knocks camera, much to the delight of Solomon Thomas and other Jets players.

After this, Smart embraced his mispronunciation with “Car-coochie” t-shirts.

Long, hard journey

Smart’s appearance on Hard Knocks did not just feature his amusing gaffe, though. The camera covered both Smart’s and his wife Jada’s discussion of his struggle to stick with an NFL roster. He was drafted by the Rams in the sixth round in 2017. Smart played in 31 games for them from 2017-19 before being released in 2020.

From there, Smart bounced briefly to the Bills and Browns before the Jets signed him to their practice squad. Since then, he’s been attempting to crack their 53-man roster each training camp, to no avail. He played in three games each for the Jets in 2020 and 2022 as a practice squad elevation.

Smart now has an opportunity to stick around for a while. With Al Woods out for the season, Smart is presumably his direct replacement on the roster. The problem for the Jets is that Smart has never graded out that well as a run defender. He posted Pro Football Focus grades of 42.3 and 39.7 in the two seasons where he saw more than 90 run defense snaps.

Woods was playing roughly 27 snaps per game before his injury. In 2022, in the three games Smart played, he was replacing either Sheldon Rankins (39 snaps per game) or Quinnen Williams (45). Still, Smart played 18, 18, and 13 snaps in those games. That would indicate that he likely won’t take over Woods’ full role. It’s more likely that Solomon Thomas or Quinton Jefferson will see a little extra work, while Smart will stay around the 15-20 mark.

Regardless, the first time that Smart makes a good play at MetLife Stadium, expect big cheers to go up for this beloved Jets player.

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mlesko73
mlesko73
8 months ago

Happy for Tanzel and his family
Jefferson has been a pleasant surprise.
We’ll need a strong run defense against Ekeler & co…though they attack the perimeter more often.

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