Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comHere’s a chance to look at some of the position battles that should play out over training camp in the coming weeks.
The Setup: The offensive line is in the middle of some transition this year. Breno Giacomini will take over for Austin Howard be at right tackle and there’s some potential upheaval on the interior. Will Winters and Colon be the starters again? Can Brian Winters get better? Will one of the backups like Oday Aboushi, Will Campbell, Ben Ijalana or Dakota Dozier assert their viability as a starter?
The Main Contenders: Willie Colon, Brian Winters, Oday Aboushi
The Darkhorses: Dakota Dozier, Will Campbell, Ben Ijalana, Caleb Schlauderaff
The Analysis: A year ago the Jets brought in Stephen Peterman. Peterman was a NFL veteran who had started for the Vikings and was known as a solid though not outstanding lineman. As camp wound down, the Jets made a surprising move by releasing Peterman and moving Vlad Ducasse into the starters role. Ducasse of course was later replaced by Brian Winters and Ducasse is now out of town. The point of this? John Idzik doesn’t seem to bring in veterans and assumes they will start for his team. As last year demonstrated with players like Peterman and Antonio Garay and others, Idzik isn’t afraid to take a calculated risk with young players if he feels the gap won’t be too far to bridge in a short time period. Now recovering from a torn biceps and on a one-year deal, could Willi Colon be this year’s Peterman?
One key to that plan is Brian Winters. Winters struggled last year as a starter, but seemed to settle in by season end. His play might be the key to the whole plan of moving on from Colon.
If Rex and Idzik determine that the decline in play from Colon isn’t worth the roster spot and want to get a promising backup into the lineup for the long-term there might be no time like the present.
There was a reason that Jets GM John Idzik stashed Oday Aboushi, Will Campbell and Ben Ijalana on the active roster for the whole of the 2013 season, yet never activated them on gameday. It’s a sign that Idzik had longer term plans for the trio and wasn’t willing to expose them to the waiver process.
The Jets could theoretically move Winters to right guard (the more crucial spot due to the team’s question marks at right tackle) and backfill whichever youngster steps up in the more comfortable left guard spot between the solid D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold.
So far, the most likely player to make the leap into the starting lineup appears to be Oday Aboushi. Like Winters, Aboushi is making the transition from tackle, but received some praise from Rex in spring practices. “I’ve been impressed with Aboushi,” Rex told reporters this spring. “More this year already in these [spring] camps than I was at any time last year.”
The Projection: Conventional wisdom seems to be that Winters will play at left and Colon will play at right, but with roster spots for the Jets many draftees at a premium, I’d not be surprised to see the Jets try their luck with Aboushi at left guard and Winters slide to the right side.