‘He’s a warrior and a fighter’: former CFL QB Chris Streveler making impression on New York Jets’ Robert Saleh

Courtesy: AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson

Former CFL quarterback Chris Streveler has become an overnight sensation in New York City.

The 27-year-old completed 8-of-11 pass attempts for 119 yards with one touchdown and one interception while carrying the football six times for 33 yards to lead the New York Jets to a 24-16 comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons. It’s the second straight preseason week Streveler has guided New York to a come-from-behind victory.

“It’s been fun, you go out there and you get to play football and win, that’s the most fun thing in the world. I’m so thankful for every opportunity that I get, you just never know,” Streveler said post-game.

“I’ve been bouncing around and had a lot of ups and downs in this business, so every opportunity I get I have a fresh and appreciative perspective on it of how thankful I am to be able to continue playing this game at the highest level and I don’t take anything for granted.”

Through two exhibition games with New York, the six-foot-one, 216-pound QB has connected on 14-of-20 passes (70 percent) for 181 yards with three touchdowns and one interception plus eight carries for 64 yards on the ground. Jets head coach Robert Saleh has taken notice of Streveler’s abilities on the field.

“Second time in a row he’s done a really good job. He goes out there in the third quarter, fourth quarter last week and he executes at — with the exception of one pass — near perfection. He’s a warrior and a fighter, it’s been cool to watch him play,” Saleh said.

“This week he did get reps, but up until last week he hadn’t gotten a rep and you just sit back there and you pay attention and you take notes and you learn — it’s all mental for him. You never know where they come from, you never know how it works out, but it’s great to see a guy seize his opportunity and take advantage of it.”

Starting quarterback Zach Wilson suffered a knee injury in the first preseason game. The second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft went for an MRI and was diagnosed with a bone bruise plus a meniscus tear that required surgery. Wilson’s absence has allowed Streveler to get more reps during training camp practices.

“I love the process of every day trying to get better and working on the things that need to get better. This time of year it’s camp and everyone is working hard and grinding, you have to embrace that grind otherwise it’s going to be a long month,” Streveler said.

“I love playing football. This is my dream, I’ve wanted to be in the NFL since I was a kid. I’m so appreciative for every opportunity I have and every time I get to step on that field and put this jersey on, it means so much to me.”

With Wilson, 15-year veteran Joe Flacco and Mike White on the roster at the quarterback position, Streveler was fighting an uphill battle to make the team. However, high-level execution in two exhibition games wearing green has changed the perception of him among the Jets coaching staff and front office while potentially improving his chances of breaking camp with the team.

“I try not to think about that stuff, for me, it’s trying to get better every day and capitalizing on whatever opportunities I get, gotta keep doing it for the rest of camp. The minute you get comfortable in this business is when the rug gets slipped out from under you,” Streveler said.

Even if the Grey Cup champion doesn’t start the 2022 season with New York, 31 other teams have seen what the former Winnipeg Blue Bomber has put on film. That could bode well for a QB who plays the most important position in football with a linebacker mentality earning another NFL opportunity.

“I would embrace that. I’ve always embraced the physicality of football, sometimes it’s been smart, sometimes it’s not as smart, but it’s just the way I play the game,” Streveler said. “I probably have to be a little smarter at times, but if I can square somebody up, put my shoulder into them and make a play, sometimes stuff like that can bring energy.”

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.