With the New York Jets actively seeking competition for starting right tackle Wayne Hunter, fellow offensive lineman Matt Slauson came to the defense of his struggling teammate.
Last week, New York sent a seventh-round draft choice to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for Jeff Otah, but the right tackle failed his physical not once, but twice, voiding the pending trade and leaving the Jets searching for answers along their offensive front.
Despite reports that the Jets are scrambling to once again sign a veteran right tackle to rub shoulders with Hunter, Slauson is convinced that the offensive line is performing well.
“Wayne was our guy either way," said Slauson of the Otah trade being rescinded. “We had 100 percent confidence in that. Wayne has been improving every single day. He is turning into an amazing player.”
Head coach Rex Ryan stressed the importance of learning multiple positions to his players during training camp, shuffling his offensive lineman around at practice.
“Well there are a lot of moving pieces on the O-line, admitted Slauson. “A lot of different guys have to be ready to play at different spots all the time.”
Ryan told reporters earlier this week that Slauson and third-year left guard Vladimir Ducasse were openly competing for the starting job. Coming off surgeries to repair a torn rotator cuff, labrum and bicep in his left arm, Slauson is back healthy and ready to reclaim his starting role.
“When it first happened, I was a little taken aback,” remarked Slauson of Ducasse battling for the starting left guard position. “But after a second I was like, 'Okay, that's kind of how it goes.' Vlad has been there all spring. He deserves a shot.”
New York’s offensive line underperformed last season with quarterback Mark Sanchez enduring a physical beating in the pocket. The Jets are getting back to the basics and trying to win the battle in the trenches.
“There are going to be speed bumps, it’s just kind of how camp goes,” said Slauson of the offense’s progress during training camp. ‘You are going to have these days and it’s what you do about it now. We have to come out tomorrow sharp and crisp and dominate as best we can.”
Rick Laughland covers the New York Jets for Greenandwhitereport.com
You can follow him on Twitter @rlaughland
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