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Jets’ ‘Tough Front 5’ Ready for Giant Test

Posted Aug 22, 2013

The New York Giants will “host” the New York Jets on Saturday night at MetLife Stadium. Both teams enter the third preseason game with an even .500 record at 1-1, but they’ve attained their victories in different fashions.

While the Giants have scored 30 points in two games combined, we put 37 points on the board in Week 2 alone.

The big guys up front have been a big part of the Jets ranking sixth in the NFL in points (27.0) and seventh in yards per game (368.5) this preseason.

“Making holes for the running back and protecting the quarterback are two things that we take a lot of pride in,” Austin Howard said.

The Jets will face a tough challenge in accomplishing these two goals this week, as they take on a Giants team ranked third in yards allowed per game (231.0).

It’s a “really good sign,” QB Mark Sanchez said, that the offensive line has been playing well even with injuries to Stephen Peterman, Brian Winters and Dalton Freeman during camp.

“It’s a tough front five,” Sanchez said, “We’re excited with their preseason so far, but we’ve just got to keep working and keep improving.”

While D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold and Austin Howard will all return as starters along the O-line, the two guards on either side of Mangold will be new faces this season. Veterans Willie Colon and Peterman were signed as free agents, Winters was drafted in the third round, and fourth-year lineman Vladimir Ducasse has been rotating in as the starting LG the past couple days and Rex Ryan said today that Ducasse will start against the Giants.

Neither injuries nor lack of experience playing together, however, has held this unit back so far.

“We have a great group of veterans along the offensive line,” Howard said. “Stephen Peterman, Willie Colon, they really fit in very nicely.”

Last season, Howard benefited as a first-year starter by learning from the veteran right guard playing beside him, Brandon Moore. He sees a lot of Moore in Colon.

“He’s an older vet, he’s seen every situation that’s out there possible, and he knows how to go out there and win games,” Austin said. “He knows how to play with intensity, with aggressiveness, and I think his play really motivates us to better our own play out there.”

“Our goal is to come out and set the tempo, set the tone,” Colon said.

Colon’s secret to good pass protection: never stop.

“We just try to train ourselves that there’s no clock out there,” he said. “And even when it’s downfield, we try to hustle down there and clean the pile up.”

Both Howard and Colon felt like the offensive line specifically and the offense in general improved from the first week in Detroit to the second week at home against Jacksonville. Coming into a game against a tough Giants defense, they hope their performance keeps on trending upward.

“It’s a process,” Howard said. “We hope to progress every week. There’s not one game that’s going to be perfect. So you watch the film and you learn from it.”

“I felt like we didn’t do as well as we could have in the Detroit game,” Colon said. “We just have to pretty much get better from the week before and we were able to do that last week.”

With rookie quarterback Geno Smith set to make his first NFL start, holding off the Giants' pass rush will be as important as ever.

“Our objective is to keep the quarterbacks clean, keep them upright, give them a chance to do their job,” Colon said, “and if we do that, we’ll always be successful.”

JETS-GIANTS PRESEASON STATS   NYJ     NYG  
Record 1-1 1-1
Points Scored 54 30
Points Allowed 39 33
First Downs Gained 43 30
First Downs Allowed 31 30
Yards Gained 737 522
Yards Allowed 608 462
Turnover Margin 0 –1

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