Jets’ Head Coach Rex Ryan has publicly stood behind right tackle Wayne Hunter all offseason, even though he was awful last season, his first full season as a starter, committing 11 penalties and allowing 11 sacks, 11 quarterback hits, and 32 quarterback pressures. He also struggled as a run blocker and graded out as ProFootballFocus’ 67th offensive tackle out of 73. Privately, he hasn’t been as supportive of Hunter and it showed when the Jets tried to trade for Jeff Otah, an injury prone former 1st round pick and starter of the Carolina Panthers, before Otah failed to pass a physical and was sent back to Carolina, who eventually cut him.
However, after Hunter’s awful showing in the Jets’ last preseason game, in which he surrendered 3 sacks in just about a half of action, it seems that Ryan’s public support of Hunter is waning. He refused to commit to Hunter as the week 1 starter in an interview with the New York Daily News and the Jets have given backup Austin Howard a bunch of 1st team reps in practice this week.
Howard and Hunter will probably alternate 1st team series in the Jets’ 3rd preseason game this week and Hunter seems like a legitimate option for the Jets week 1. He might not be any better and the 2010 undrafted free agent has only played in 2 games in his career, including one start, surrendering 2 sacks and 2 quarterback pressures week 17 with the Eagles in 2010. However, he can’t be much worse. Either way, right tackle will likely be a position of weakness on the Jets’ offensive line this season.
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