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Hunter Set for First Career Tackle Start at PIT

Posted by Randy Lange on December 16, 2010 – 4:11 pm

Wayne Hunter’s about to break one of those long droughts that no one outside of his family and the Jets locker room probably knows about.

“This is my first start as a tackle,” said Hunter today, wearing his eternal off-the-field smile at the group of reporters that approached him right after he got out of the shower and right before he needed to be in a meeting. “I’ve been on teams with guys who’ve been so healthy on the offensive line. They just haven’t gotten hurt.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “It’s exciting, nervous … more exciting than anything,”

The length of Hunter’s career can be measured several ways. He was Seattle’s third-round pick in 2003 so this is his eighth NFL season. He didn’t play as a rookie so that makes it seven. He sat out most of ’07 to knock it down to six and change. And in those six-plus seasons, he’s played in 44 regular-season games plus three in the postseason.

In all that time, he’s made just three starts, two last year, one this year at Denver, all as a blocking tight end.

“Playing jumbo tight end has kept me in the game,” Hunter explained. “It’s basically tackle sets, just further out. That’s kept me prepared for times like this.”

Now he’s getting ready for Sunday’s start against LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison — “I’m preparing for both” — and the Steelers defense with about six quarters of work at tackle the past three games. He took over for Woody and his wounded knee late in the first quarter against Houston, then came in on the third series of Sunday’s game vs. Miami.

“It hasn’t been easy — Mario and Wake,” he said, referencing DE Mario Williams of the Texans and Dolphins LB Cameron Wake. “But the cliché is if you want to be the best, you’ve got to go against the best.”

Hunter gave up sacks to Wake, not a high crime considering the Dolphin’s league-leading 14 sacks but a misdemeanor at least, but that hasn’t diminished Rex Ryan’s view of Hunter’s value to the Jets.

“I’ve said all along I think Wayne’s a tremendous football player who can be starting for a lot of teams in this league,” Ryan said at today’s news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “This is going to be a challenge for all of us, but I think Wayne’s ready to do the job.”

“Rex tends to exaggerate sometimes,” Hunter said, “but I’m glad he’s got that confidence in me.”

And even though Hunter has scuffled through the past several games, he has confidence in himself because, well, he’s that kind of guy, but also because except for training camp, he doesn’t get long stretches to practice his chosen craft.

“I think playing offensive line, a lot of that has to do with finding a rhythm. I don’t think you can get some rhythm until you get some gametime,” he said. “So I’m hoping to find my rhythm in this game, possibly the next, depending on how long Woody’s out.”

Woody’s three-word advisory to Hunter before he got his ‘scope Wednesday: “Don’t get comfortable.”

Hunter’s two-word response: “Wally Pipp.”

Or words to that effect.

Safety Net

Ryan confirmed that Dwight Lowery will get the start at safety Sunday at Heinz Field alongside Brodney Pool. Who will call the secondary’s signals with Eric Smith sitting out with a concussion? “Who’ve we got left?” the coach said. “We’ll figure it out.”

But Rex added that Pool, new to the system in the offseason, has been immersing himself in the playcalling details before and after meetings and practices. “It’s been impressive,” Ryan said.

Injury Reports

Ryan today declared Woody and E.Smith out for Sunday’s game. Others who didn’t practice in team drills today were S James Ihedigbo — “This is Dig’s kind of game … I think he’s going to play for sure” — and DT Trevor Pryce — “Hopefully he’ll play but I’m not 100 percent on that right now.”

CB Darrelle Revis was listed for the first time in three weeks with a hamstring issue and was limited at today’s outdoor turf practice, although Rex said of his CB, “I expect Revis to play. That was more precautionary than anything.”

Update, 6:15 p.m.: The Steelers continue to list LB James Harrison (illness), S Troy Polamalu (ankle) and DE Aaron Smith (triceps) as not practicing today. They also added two more names to the DNP section of their injury report: TE Heath Miller (concussion) and DT Steve McLendon (stinger).

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Posted in Randy Lange | 12 Comments »

12 Responses to “Hunter Set for First Career Tackle Start at PIT”

  1. By scjoe on Dec 16, 2010 | Reply

    If you think things aren’t going bad enough right now, how about the thought of Brodney Pool calling signals on the back end against the Pittsburgh Steelers? The only worse thought I can come up with is our offense going up against the Pittsburgh Steeler defense. This one don’t look very good on paper, but as they say, the game isn’t played on paper. So, lets hold on to our hats, expect the worse, and hope for the best. Remember, on any given Sunday! Just to bad we have to use THAT quote for a team that was looking at home field throughout just 2 weeks ago.

  2. By Fish Hunters on Dec 17, 2010 | Reply

    Tough to say but Mangini had it right. Only one who needs to be talking is the head coach. Westoff speaks and we get controversy. Shotty speaks and we get controversy. A self imposed gag order should be in place. This team just needs to SHUT UP!

  3. By Fish Hunters on Dec 17, 2010 | Reply

    Guess who the Steelers D is going to attack. Sanchez better make sure he’s wearing both knee braces.

  4. By Fish Hunters on Dec 17, 2010 | Reply

    Haven’t heard a word out of Woody Johnson since before the Patriots game. That can’t be good for management.

  5. By Fish Hunters on Dec 17, 2010 | Reply

    Yep, I’m implying Woody may be thinking he made a mistake in his hiring decisions.

  6. By IRA on Dec 17, 2010 | Reply

    Hunter sure has a big task at hand when he faces the Steelers. Its not going to be easy. And while you would think the Jets will have to spread out the Steelers i am sure Keller and LT or Greene will be lined up on Hunter’s side to help protect Sanchez. I can see keller chip and go out for short passes all day. This is not an imposible game to win like most fans and critics are saying. Too bad though this will break up that o-line starting game streak. Randy its about 48 games or so?

  7. By Randy Lange on Dec 17, 2010 | Reply

    Actually, Ira, the streak stopped in the opener this year when Matt Slauson replaced Alan Faneca at LG. But four of the five O-linemen have started together 48 straight games, including playoffs.

  8. By Alex.G on Dec 17, 2010 | Reply


  9. By Mike Jet Vet on Dec 17, 2010 | Reply

    M-S needs to bootleg play action roll out all to his left most of this game so Woodley or Harrison will have to move over D’Brick if not M-S get killed, Hunter is a good fill in and Jumbo TE but to stop both or either of this guys is a task I don’t believe he’s ready for..If somehow someway we can get our running game back on track or heaven help us M-S completes 70% of his passes we have a shot its not posible to beat the Steelers way we played our last 3 games no way ..Fish Hunters I’d agree if you said Woodys re thinking paiding Revis and bad draft choices coaches as a whole (((had)) the team going in the right direction last 2 seasons

  10. By Pranit on Dec 17, 2010 | Reply

    MS get ready to get KILLED !!! …even with Woody or any starter, this is an impossible task…Woodley/Harrison off the edges…i think coming out alive & healthy might be an accomplishment for all Jet Players…

    Rex boasts that the Jets are a physical team…yeah, right…lets see them go mano-a-mano against the steelers…

    How can we score against that defense? Any ideas? — can;t run on them (best in NFL)…MS/Schotty are horrendous when it comes to passing the ball…And every blue moon when they do get the ball to a reciever, the reciever is shocked and drops the ball….what a circus !!

    btw, i don’t think we should sign Santonio Holmes to a long term deal..That guy drops too many balls…He was a dropper in pittsburgh too..

  11. By Clarke W. Griswald on Dec 17, 2010 | Reply

    What’re we gonna do about the running back situation next year, when tannenbaum puts Tomlinson out to stud?

  12. By Jets Fan Tom for a Long Time on Dec 18, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Pranit, if you don’t like the passing game now, wait till you see it without Holmes and Edwards. We need those guys about as badly as we need anybody on the team…unless you wanna go back to the days of waiting for Clowney to blossom, waiting for Smith to show anything at all at WR, and waiting for J-Co and Coles to show the burst needed to get behind DBs. J-Co will do much better the next couple of years primarily underneath if he still has Holmes and Edwards to open things up. Then we just need a QB who can get the ball to them.

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