The Vlad Ducasse era has ended quickly, with the New York Jets set to replace him in the starting lineup with rookie guard Brian Winters. Vlad Ducasse had earned the starting spot at left guard with a strong training camp, looking as though he would redeem himself after three disappointing years following his selection in round two of the 2010 NFL Draft. Penalties and poor play of late did him in, with the team turning to Brian Winters, drafted in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Kent State.
Vlad Ducasse got off to a fast start for the New York Jets, making a big statement when he handled Vince Wilfork well in week two against the New England Patriots. That opened some eyes and created expectations. Ducasse has fallen well short of the bar he set with his performance in the first two games. Penalties have gotten him noticed above and beyond his poor play.
Brian Winters was expected to compete for the starting job, in some circles seen as the favorite, but was hampered by an ankle injury in training camp. He played left tackle at Kent State but will move inside to guard in the NFL. That transition will be an interesting one, but being sandwiched between D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold on the line will help.
The insertion of Brian Winters into the starting lineup will give the Jets two rookie starters on offense – Winters and Geno Smith – as well as a few rookies seeing time on defense in Sheldon Richardson and Dee Milliner. Second-year players Quinton Coples, Antonio Allen, Demario Davis and Stephen Hill have also been making big contributions. That bodes well for the Jets moving forward.
For now, offensively, the biggest concern is protecting Geno Smith. Rookie quarterbacks can be delicate and solidifying the offensive line may put him at ease in the pocket. The Jets need Smith to limit his turnovers and less pressure can make that an easier task.
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