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Rex Ryan can only shrug about left guard

It doesn't take a shrewd scout or seasoned offensive line coach to recognize left guard as a problem for the New York Jets.

The Jets released perennial Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca in April and opened a competition between second-year pro Matt Slauson and second-round draft choice Vladimir Ducasse.

Slauson

SlausonSlauson won by default, and he has been at fault a number of times through three games. The Buffalo Bills, desperate to generate any kind of pass rush, certainly have noticed Slauson as the weak link of an otherwise solid offensive line.

"Matt's not great right now, but he's working like heck to get better," Jets head coach Rex Ryan said Wednesday on a conference call. "I think he's about as good as most guards in our division."

The competition is a bit diluted this year. Faneca is gone. New England Patriots left guard Logan Mankins is an unsigned restricted free agent and hasn't reported. The Miami Dolphins cycle through guards every season. The Bills have sophomores Eric Wood and Andy Levitre.

Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata steamrolled Slauson for a sack on opening night.

Slauson was flagged three times in Sunday night's victory over the Miami Dolphins, twice for holding on one drive to prevent a touchdown. One of his holds erased an 11-yard pass play that would have given the Jets first-and-goal from the 5-yard line. The next hold nullified a Mark Sanchez touchdown run. The Jets settled for a field goal.

I asked Ryan if Ducasse was ready to step in.

"No," Ryan said. "If he was, he'd be playing.

"Ducasse, I'll tell you, this young man is going to be a player. There is no question. He's really a natural tackle. We're trying to put him in there to compete with Slauson, but he's not ready for that job right now."