The Jets' offensive line is in a partial transition year. At left tackle, D'Brickashaw Ferguson is retired, Ryan Clady is in. At right guard, Willie Colon is departed and the job is Brian Winters'.
Winters came to the Jets in the third round of the 2013 draft as a strong, feisty young man from Kent State. He's still young — he just celebrated his 25th birthday last month — and still strong. And he's feistier than ever.
"I have a chip on my shoulder. I've had a big chip on my shoulder since my rookie year," he said after Thursday's practice under the hot North Jersey sun at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. "They finally made the transition for me over to right guard and since then it's been a lot better. I'm a natural right-sided player, so everything's moving right along."
Why the big chip? "People talkin', people hatin'," Winters replied. "I'm just trying to show them it's different."
He took over as the left guard starter as a rookie in '13 and started 18 straight games there until an ACL tear ended his second season. Last year Colon started the year at RG and newly signed James Carpenter at LG. but Colon's aching knee KO'd him after Game 7 and Winters started the last nine games at his favored spot.
Winters may be have an extra edge because Colon was his guru to the pro game.
"Willie's a mentor to me. We came in here to the Jets together. He came from Pittsburgh and I was a rookie," he said. "He was the kind of guy I leaned on. We talked things through and he kind of guided me."
Now it's Winters' turn to become a grizzled vet and help solidify a unit that could be very solid, with from left to right Clady, Carpenter, center Nick Mangold, Winters and Breno Giacomini. Breno has started camp on the Active/PUP list with a sore back, so Winters is doing some inline communication with RTs Brent Qvale and Ben Ijalana.
"Now I've got Nick and Breno next to me, and I'm an older guy now, too," he said. "Our line's just picking up where we left off. Obviously different people are stepping in, but we all have a chip on our shoulder and we want to get back and do what we've got to do."
Day 7 Action at Jets Camp