Friday, September 24, 2010
Hunter's absence hurting o-line depth
By Matt Ehalt
Backup offensive tackle Wayne Hunter will not make the trip with the team to Miami for Sunday’s game, leaving the Jets thin on the offensive line. Hunter, who is dealing with a shin injury that has sidelined him for the past three days of practice, will be replaced by 2010 second-round pick Vladimir Ducasse, who will be active for the first time this season.
“That [injury] has actually gotten worse,” head coach Rex Ryan said of Hunter. “That shin is kind of swelling and it’s gone into the knee, so he’s going to be back here getting treatment.
“At the beginning of the week, I thought Wayne would go, but they say he’s gotten worse, not better.”
Hunter’s injury makes it all the more peculiar that the team waived offensive tackle Patrick Brown on Thursday. Brown would have been able to slide into Hunter’s backup role, but now that responsibility will fall to Ducasse.
While Ducasse played left tackle at the University of Massachusetts, he has been practicing at guard for the Jets, and battled for the starting left guard spot during the preseason with Matt Slauson. It doesn't help the team either that center Nick Mangold is battling injury, meaning that Rob Turner, who is the backup at right guard and center, could have to focus primarily on center if Mangold can't stay in the game.
Hunter also served as an extra tight end during "jumbo" formations, and Ryan said that Ducasse will serve as the backup tight end as well as he fills in for Hunter.
Before Ryan announced the news Friday, Ducasse said he had not been informed of his status for the game. He said that even with Hunter nursing his injury, he’s been preparing the same way.
“It’s the same thing because every week we practice you just gotta be ready any time,” Ducasse said. “That’s what we practice for, to get better and get ready, so any time your name is called you have to be ready to go.”