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RG Alijah Vera-Tucker Likes the Look & Feel of Jets' Revamped O-Line

AVT Says Achilles Rehab 'Going Really Well,' It's 'Comforting' to Know He Can Focus on Just One Position in '24


The feel of the Jets' refurbished offensive line is new not only to the players who have recently been signed or drafted but also to the players returning to it from the past year or more.

Guard Alijah Vera-Tucker, a linchpin in the line for the '24 season, is one of those returnees and he likes what he's seeing.

"I expect it to be a real great improvement," Vera-Tucker said after his Phase 2 offseason workout at One Jets Drive on Wednesday. "There's a Hall of Famer over there on the left side [Tyron Smith], Morgan Moses is a decorated right tackle in the league with a lot of reps, [guard] John Simpson, too. And there's a lot of guys around the room [from last season], just putting their heads down and grinding."

Then there was the first-round selection almost a week ago of former Penn State tackle Olu Fashanu. AVT said he's heard from Olu even though the two aren't likely to be playing the same positions in the season ahead.

"Olu's already hitting me up about what to expect, this and that," Vera-Tucker said. "He's going to come in here ready to work. His film says it all, and he's a great guys, too."

It's been a second long road of a season and offseason for Vera-Tucker after he suffered his second midseason season-ending injury in two years. But while he wasn't committing to a definitive return to action from his Achilles tear suffered in Game 5 at Denver last season, he's optimistic for his return to the Jets' new and improved OL mix.

"I can tell you I'm feeling good. I'm getting a lot of strength back in my calf and my leg muscles," he said. "I'm feeling really good, definitely on pace for a good start to the season. It's going really well."

Also going well is AVT's present and future employment by the Green & White. General manager Joe Douglas said at the conclusion of the draft that, as much as it seemed like a formality for the extremely talented and versatile player, he let Vera-Tucker know that the Jets are picking up his fifth-year option.

"I was blessed for sure," Vera-Tucker said of the transaction. "I got to celebrate with my wife out here. And I appreciate everyone who's shown love to me in the past. It's another opportunity to be in that Jets uniform which I love to be in. I love playing for this organization. There's a lot of great guys on this team, and you feel a great energy, a great vibe. This is just another year to ball out with the guys and be grateful for it."

For anyone who forgot how versatile AVT has been, here is his journey among four of the Jets' five starting OL positions since his arrival as the Jets' first-round pick, 14th overall, out of Southern Cal in the 2021 NFL Draft (games played/games started/offensive snaps):

Table inside Article
Season LT LG RG RT
2021 16 / 16 / 1026
2022 1 / 1 / 70 3 / 3 / 232 3 / 3 / 130
2023 2 / 2 / 101 3 / 3 / 149
Totals 1 / 1 / 70 16 / 16 / 1026 5 / 5 / 333 6 / 6 / 279

Jets head coach Robert Saleh speculated at the end of last season that just maybe Vera-Tucker's injuries the past two seasons had something to do with the Jets needing to move him from one spot to another due to other injuries. "His first year, he played one position and stayed healthy the whole year," Saleh said. "So whatever we decide, whether it's left guard, right guard, right tackle, left tackle, we want him to stay in that spot and never move through hell or high water, regardless of injury."

With Smith — a USC football alum just like AVT, although he entered the NFL a decade earlier — Moses and Fashanu at tackle, Simpson at left guard and Joe Tippmann at center, it looks as if Vera-Tucker will settle in at right guard, and that's good by him.

"It feels good, kind of comforting," he said about knowing his position ahead of training camp. "Before we even step into camp, we know what the lineup's going to be. It's a good feeling. I have to make sure to perfect my technique and craft at that position.

"Obviously, there are some improvements to be made, and I plan on doing that each and every year," he said. "At the end of the day, I'm excited to be at one position and do my thing."

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