Week 5 against Atlanta last year was a big one for
Since making that start as a rookie on Monday Night Football, a 30-28 road win for the Green & White, Winters did not miss any of the 726 offensive snaps for the remainder of the season.
Entering the offseason, he was pushed by longtime friend and fellow 2013 draft pick
“I feel like we as a whole had a good offseason and a good preseason,” Winters, the starter for the season opener, said after today's practice, “so I’m excited to see how it goes.”
It was perhaps his preseason that helped solidify his starting position this year. He was a workhorse for the Green & White, playing a total of 134 offensive snaps, including team-highs of 39 and 57 against the Bengals and Giants respectively.
He’ll be asked to do a lot more Sunday when the Raiders, with their veteran and athletic defense, come to MetLife Stadium.
“They’re good players. They’re older, but to us, it doesn’t matter who we’re going against,” Winters said. “We’re going to go out there and compete, no matter who it is. I really don’t pay attention to that stuff. I’m here to work.”
He’s a business-oriented man. He takes the game and makes it his job, his livelihood. He’s earned praise from head coach Rex Ryan for his physicality and demeanor while facing stiff competition for his job from Aboushi.
“Even though Aboushi played well, we thought Winters played better. I think he's got a chance to be an outstanding player,” Ryan said today. “And Aboushi, you go into things letting them sort out, but I'm not sure I thought Aboushi would have the type of training camp that he did. I was really happy with him. But some of the games, I thought Winters played as good as anybody."
Winters shrugged off the kind words from his head coach, adding that he doesn’t think he’s done anything special to deserve credit. He’s just here to help the team win.
“It’s good, but I’m not going to take it. I’m here to continue to work and get better,” he said. “Football is personal for me, so I just have to continue to work.
He’s made great strides since coming out of Kent State last season, where he played mostly at tackle. He turned to G
Winters said one of the toughest parts of transitioning to guard is playing next to two players, instead of just one as a tackle. That difference, coupled with an advanced playbook, Winters said, took some time to adjust to and is a big reason for his emergence in his second season.
“Just knowing how the offensive line works and the people you play in between helps me get an understanding and see the big picture," he said.
That big picture for Winters is to keep finding more tools to be a better offensive linemen. He said he’s looking to be a complete blocker, adding he has no preference in run blocking or pass blocking.
“It really doesn’t matter, you know,” he said. “That’s the thing about this: You've got to be able to do both.”
READ: Rex and the Jets Are All In for White Out
READ: Jets-Raiders: 9 Things to Know
WATCH: Miller: 'Wilkerson & Richardson Are Stars'
WATCH: Geno's Personal Goals Are 'to Win'
WATCH: Behind Enemy Lines: Oakland Raiders