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After rough Eagles ending, Sheppard looks forward to fresh start with Jets

NEW YORK -- Lito Sheppard went from playing in the Pro Bowl to being buried on the Philadelphia Eagles' depth chart.

Now a member of the New York Jets, the 27-year-old cornerback is eager for a fresh start.

"It's great," Sheppard said Tuesday. "It gives me a chance to get back on the football field and continue to be the great player I tried to be in Philly. It's like closing one chapter of my book and starting a new one."

The Jets acquired Sheppard from the Eagles last Saturday for two draft picks. NFL Network's Adam Schefter reported that the compensation is a fifth-rounder this year and a conditional pick in next year's draft.

Schefter also said the Jets gave Sheppard a four-year contract extension that will take effect after the season. It includes a $10 million signing bonus that will be paid out next March.

"Change is not always bad," Sheppard said. "Sometimes change can rejuvenate a player."

And that's exactly what the Jets are hoping. The former first-round pick out of the University of Florida made the Pro Bowl in 2004 and '06, but he saw his role drastically reduced last season as he fell out of favor and started just three games while Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown were in the Eagles' lineup.

"I'm not going to touch on that story too much," Sheppard said, adding that he was relieved to have been traded. "Obviously, we saw things a little different and one thing led to another, and the best thing for me, if I wanted to continue playing football in this league, was to go elsewhere. That's what we decided on, and it's in the past now."

When the Eagles signed Samuel as a free agent last offseason, it appeared likely that Sheppard would be traded. Sheppard also wanted a new contract, but Philadelphia didn't want to redo it and found no suitable trade offers -- so he became a highly paid backup. After giving up three touchdowns against the Arizona Cardinals on Thanksgiving, Sheppard was dropped from No. 3 to No. 5 on the Eagles' depth chart. He then played mostly on special teams the rest of the season.

"There's no hard feelings," Sheppard said. "It's a business and it's a game, and a lot of people don't get to see the business side, so I'm just happy to continue to move on and get things rolling again."

Sheppard might have an immediate opportunity to do so, as he's slated to start opposite Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis with the Jets. Sheppard's presence could greatly improve a secondary that ranked 29th against the pass last season despite also having playmaking safety Kerry Rhodes.

"He brings experience and a guy that has been very productive in this league," Rhodes told The Associated Press. "He's somebody I'm looking forward to seeing on the field with us and seeing the impact he can bring to us."

While he fell out of favor in Philadelphia, Sheppard has a knack for making big plays. He has returned three of his 18 career interceptions for touchdowns and was the first player in NFL history with two such returns of more than 100 yards.

Sheppard was asked if he was looking forward to showing the Eagles how good he still is.

"I think they actually know it, so that won't be any part of it," he said. "I'll prove it to myself and to everybody in the league who might've forgotten because of me not being out there, so that's what I'm excited about."

Sheppard also is happy to be playing in new Jets head coach Rex Ryan's aggressive, blitzing-style defense, which is similar to what coordinator Jim Johnson runs in Philadelphia.

"I've been in this game for seven years and been to two Pro Bowls and had a pretty OK career to this point," Sheppard said. "I played a lot of man-to-man in Philadelphia, and we blitzed a lot there, so I'm pretty familiar with getting the job done."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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