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Howard Lines Up with the Ones in Practice

Practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center was somewhat different this afternoon than it had been previously this training camp.

Right tackle Austin Howard was practicing with the first-team offense.

"Any opportunity to go out there and perform with the ones is a blessing," Howard said. "It's just a matter of going out there and taking advantage of this opportunity and continuing to get better."

Head coach Rex Ryan made the announcement at his news conference today that Howard will be the starting right tackle against Carolina on Sunday night.

Wayne Hunter started Saturday against the Giants and all of last season at the position. Yet he gave up three sacks against the G-Men and appeared frustrated on the sidelines. He said he wasn't surprised when Ryan informed him of the news this morning.  

"I was just waiting for it, to be honest with you," Hunter said. "I knew I was struggling. I knew everything was kind of going south for me, but at the same time I still wanted to help the team in anyway possible. I love the Jets. I love this organization. So again, moving to this position is the best thing for me right now and the guys."

Hunter now will be used as the Jets' sixth offensive lineman, backing up tackle and guard and playing third tight end as well. In the past, especially down the homestretch of the 2010 season and into the playoffs, he had success in that role.

"I feel more comfortable because I've had so much success being a Jumbo guy," he said. "I've had so much success being that tight end. There's proof in the pudding right there. It's as simple as that."

Guard Brandon Moore believes Howard is prepared for the task that lies ahead. He also said if the 6'7" 333-pounder ever needs advice his door would be open.  

"He's a physical player," Moore said. "He's not afraid of contact. He's got good feet. He's pretty athletic.

"He played tight end in college. He's a big guy. You're not going to really run him over. Those are the things that stand out."

Howard stated that he lost 27 to 30 pounds since the beginning of OTAs from a diet he was on with his girlfriend, Larissa.

"I knew that they wanted me to drop the weight," he said. "It was a huge, motivational thing. I knew that there could possibly be a huge opportunity for me."

Larissa served as Austin's coach. They worked out together mountain-biking and climbing and also dieted on four to five small meals a day.

"I feel that it's made me a little bit more agile," Howard said. "A lot of knee pressure has been taken off. I'm able to switch from the left to right side that much easier."

Despite earning the starting spot over Hunter for now, Howard said he still will seek to learn from his teammate.

And as both players will try to adjust and make the most of their new roles, Moore's perspective on the topic couldn't be more on point. "I don't know if Wayne took the fall," Moore said. "I mean, people move in and out of different spots, back and forth. I like Wayne. I consider him a friend of mine. But this is how things work out in this business. I think he's OK with it. Well, not OK with it, but I think he'll move forward in whatever role he has and Austin will try to make the most of his opportunity."

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