The two played in the USA vs. the World exhibition game in 2009 on the same offensive line, with Aboushi at tackle and Winters playing as a guard. The two played in college, mostly as tackles, for four years, before declaring for the draft.
As far as Winters is concerned, their competition thus far at camp has not affected the friendship the linemen have forged over the years.
“We don’t really take it that way,” he said of the competition between the two. “We’re just here to work. We’ve known each other for a long time, since before college, so we know each other pretty well.”
In the 2013 NFL Draft, the Jets selected Winters in the third round and Aboushi in the fifth, reuniting the two as professionals. Their playing time was significantly different last season as Winters appeared in all 762 offensive snaps once he was named the LG starter in Game 5 against Atlanta.
“I started playing last year around Week 10,” Aboushi said. “I just really embraced it. I’ve never played guard before so for me to be in there and embrace it like that, have the guys support me and the coaching staff support me like they have, definitely made me more comfortable at the position I am now.”
Aboushi has made great strides in his transition, as he and Winters alternated between left and right guard during the first week of practice at training camp while G
Switching sides of the line, the two men said, was tough to get used to initially because the movements are opposite one another, but having them switch positions gives the linemen an advantage.
“You've got to slow down a little bit,” Winters said. “You’re in a different stance and you've got to know the positions. It’s opposite directions so that can get complicated, but it’s good to know both sides of the line with multiple players.”
Colon has since been activated from the Active/PUP list, but Aboushi and Winters have continued to split time at left guard with Colon on the right side. On Tuesday Winters received the most reps with the ones, but today Aboushi worked with the first team.
Aboushi and Winters both said they’ve looked to Colon for guidance, as he made a similar transition entering the league. On Sunday the two played a prank on Colon, walking up behind him with their helmets on, while on camera with newyorkjets.com's Eric Allen.
That kind of thing, Winters said, is just one of the ways the offensive line’s chemistry has improved during the offseason.
“It’s a lot better this year since we’ve been around each other more,” he said. “I have a better relationship with the older guys, they’ve trusted me better. We’ve been working better together than we did last year.”
Aboushi said that the linemen are on the same page in terms of goals they have for the upcoming season.
“We want to be a great offensive line and we want to be that when the season starts,” he said. “Every day we go out there with a goal, whether it’s individual or as a group, to get better. Individually, when you work to get better as yourself, you perfect your craft. Everybody is taking that step to get where we want to be.”
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