Training camp is finally almost here. They allow tackling there and everything. Around the League will count down the top 30 position battles to watch throughout the preseason.
No. 24: New York Jets right tackle: Wayne Hunter vs. The World
â¢ As shocking as this might be for New York Jets fans, this remains Hunter's job to lose. Don't believe me? Here's what offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo said in May: "Until they ship him out of here or shoot me dead in my office, the guy's the starting right tackle." Jeez man.
â¢ Despite his coach's faith, make no mistake -- Hunter was a wreck in 2011. He gave up 8.5 sacks, 11 penalties and 32 QB hits last season. He was serviceable in the run game -- a positive trait with the arrival of Tony Sparano and the supposed return of "ground and pound" -- but too often resembled a turnstile when Mark Sanchez dropped back to pass.
â¢ General manager Mike Tannenbaum surprised many by not targeting Hunter's replacement in the draft. In fact, the Jets didn't take an offensive lineman until Robert T. Griffin in the sixth round. Baylor's other RG is viewed as a project at this point.
â¢ The best bet to push Hunter comes in the form of third-year pro Vladimir Ducasse. The Jets had high hopes for Ducasse when they took him with the No. 61 overall pick in the 2010 draft, but Ducasse struggled mightily in spot work at tackle and guard last season. Ducasse told The Star-Ledger he sees 2012 as a make-or-break year for him. He ain't lying.
Projected winner: Rex Ryan's in too deep to give up on Hunter now. He'll be the starter Week 1. But don't be surprised if they kick the tires on Ducasse before it's through.