In a matter of just one week New York Jets right tackle went from the starting lineup to the bench to the St. Louis Rams. Hunter, who held a private meeting with head coach Rex Ryan early last week, was replaced by Austin Howard for this past Sunday night’s preseason contest against the Carolina Panthers. The embattled lineman couldn’t shed the nickname ‘turnstile’ a moniker he earned for his inept pass blocking ability over the course of the 2011 season which carried over into the current preseason period. Designated as Gang Green’s jumbo tackle, Hunter wasn’t the least bit disgruntled with the coach’s decision, telling reporters that he “saw the move coming.”
With Hunter’s contract fully guaranteed for the remainder of the season, Jets’ fans came to grips with the fact that he would likely stay on the roster for the entire 2012 campaign. On Friday, the Jets and Rams completed a swap of right tackles as Hunter went to St. Louis in exchange for Jason Smith. The former No. 2 selection of the 2009 NFL draft, Smith struggled to stay healthy suffering a serious concussion during his rookie year forcing him to miss rest of the season. In three seasons with the Rams, Smith started 26 of 29 career games.
With the Wayne Hunter era in New York officially ended, many fans are rejoicing a move that they had clamored for the past year. Hunter will reunite with former Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who joined Jeff Fisher’s coaching staff in St. Louis this offseason.
Rick Laughland covers the New York Jets for Greenandwhitereport.com
You can follow him on Twitter @rlaughland
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