"He's pushing. He's pushing hard," Rex Ryan said of Enemkpali, via the team's official site. "He looks pretty good to me. He's really improved from a mental standpoint. Sometimes you're overwhelmed as a rookie, but I think he's taken off. He's a physical player. He knows exactly what he's doing, and you're seeing a better player on the field."
Enemkpali, for what it's worth, seems like a good guy who made a mistake in the heat of the moment. A New York Times profile from last year paints the picture of an intense but humble young man. There are most certainly two sides of the story.
But now, he's left to weather the difficult road of a former sixth-round pick trying to make a second roster. Having Ryan in his corner helps, but Enemkpali is theoretically buried four deep at the defensive end position. Although Shaq Lawson's shoulder surgery should grant Enemkpali some more reps in training camp than normal, those reps might need to be spectacular in order to keep his career on track.
Shaking perception is a very difficult thing to do in today's media-driven sports culture. Players get labeled, generalized and buried before anyone takes time to realize that people make mistakes. Enemkpali's teammate, Richie Incognito, recently told Sports Illustrated that he wants to re-write the narrative of his career. While we're not in any way comparing the misdeeds of Incognito to those of Enemkpali, there seems to be general momentum in Incognito's favor. A three-year, $15.75 million contract signed this offseason went a long way toward changing the thought process on Incognito, fairly or unfairly.
So maybe there is another way to look at this last shot for Enemkpali, a player we haven't heard a peep from since the incident in New York. Maybe it is not the picture of a person barely hanging on, but instead trying to take advantage of an opportunity in front of him.