One of the most veteran Jets offensive linemen who could have a say in how the line situation shakes out heading into Opening Day and beyond should get a lot of playing time in tonight's preseason finale at Philadelphia.
"It's gone pretty good so far," Adrian Jones said this week. "We've had ups and downs as far as technique and making mistakes early on. But I think it's pretty much evening out for us."
Jones hasn't made a start since 2005, but he's been around for four seasons since arriving as a fourth-round draft pick out of Kansas in '04. And he's been seeing action with the second offense at guard and tackle this preseason.
"We haven't talked about playing time for Philadelphia yet," he said, "but I always go into these games assuming I'll play as many plays as I can. I think my playing time has been pretty consistent this preseason. I've been seeing two quarters, three quarters, that kind of thing."
I asked him if he's become a jack-of-all-trades along the line.
"I wouldn't call it Mr. Versatility, but I could pretty much play whichever position is needed," he said.
So he's a four-position player now? Jones pleasantly corrected me on that assumption.
"I played center my rookie year," the 6'5", 296-pounder said. "Mostly it was with the scout team. But as far as being a lineman, you've got to know where the center's going, so I've had experience at pretty much everything."
A five-position player then.
With the uncertainty that arose in Jets fans minds following last week's Pete Kendall trade, two players already on the roster have been mentioned most prominently at left guard. But as general manager Mike Tannenbaum said about the Kendall deal with the Redskins:
"I think it creates an opportunity, be it for Jacob Bender, Adrien Clarke or Adrian Jones. Something we're committed to is going by what we see and the best players will play, and that could be someone on our team."
Tannenbaum and head coach Eric Mangini have also said it could also be someone not yet on the team. But while the front office seeks the best alignment for the line heading into the season opener vs. New England, Jones and his teammates are already in the Philadelphia area now and getting ready for their final summer tuneup against the Eagles.
"I've never had the chance to be kicking it, to go out and party in Philadelphia," Jones said. "I have a couple of in-laws there. It would be nice to get out there and get a cheesesteak. We may have a little time during the day to do some sightseeing. But this is a business trip."
And Jones, who's had his ups and downs, going from a 16-game starter at left and right tackle in '05 to a backup lineman last season, is taking on the friendly demeanor of a grizzled NFL veteran. Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson were higher draft picks, Anthony Clement and Smith have been around longer, but the only O-lineman on the roster who trumps Jones' four seasons as an active Jet is RG Brandon Moore, now in his fifth season.
"I do feel like a veteran," Jones said. "I try to take the veteran role as far as trying to set an example, things like that. Whenever I make a mistake, I'm harder on myself than the coaches."
Against the Eagles, Jones has a great opportunity to show that he's still a part of the solution to the puzzle at left guard and in terms of depth all along the line.