Wayne Hunter favored to be New York Jets' starting RT


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

Top 30 training camp position battles

No. 30: Seahawks running backs
No. 29: Packers No. 3 receiver
No. 28: Broncos backup running back
No. 27: Bengals cornerbacks
No. 26: Raiders backup quarterback
No. 25: Cardinals receiver
No. 24: Jets right tackle
No. 23: Jets linebacker
No. 22: Redskins running back
No. 21: Giants No. 3 receiver
No. 20: Patriots receiver
No. 19: Colts tight end
No. 18: Rams receivers
No. 17: Jaguars quarterbacks
No. 16: Bears wide receivers
No. 15: NFL safety battles
No. 14: Jaguars No. 2 receiver
No. 13: Bears left tackle
No. 12: Randy Moss vs. Father time
No. 11: Lions receivers
No. 10: Cardinals running back
No. 9: Ravens pass rusher
No. 8: Dolphins quarterback
No. 7: Buccaneers running back
No. 6: Steelers defensive end
No. 5: Dolphins wide receiver
No. 4: Cardinals quarterback
No. 3: The Oakland Raiders
No. 2: Titans quarterback
No. 1: Seahawks quarterback

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.