From the outside, it may look like the Jets' offensive line might need more time to practice together for the start of the regular season. After all, LT Kelvin Beachum missed all four games and RG Brian Winters sat out two with injuries.
But (a) the line doesn't have any more time than the rest of this week to get ready for their Monday night season opener at Detroit, and (b) from the inside, coaches and players alike feel the O-line is whole and ready to roll.
"It's just good to have all of our guys healthy, and they go out there and know each other better because they practice with each other longer," head coach Todd Bowles said after today's return to practice. "We expect them to play together and we expect them to play well."
Concerned? Not really, said OL coach Rick Dennison.
"They've been practicing, they spent a lot of time in the spring and obviously in training camp," Dennison said. "I think we'll be fine. ... They're just getting better every day, working and playing fast."
Spencer Long, the veteran lineman and new center for this group, was a man of few words on the "chemistry" front, saying, "We've had plenty of reps together."
Top Images from a Hot Afternoon on the Practice Field at 1 Jets Drive
What counts now is that the Jets' starting five has been practicing now and are ready to take on the challenges of protecting rookie QB Sam Darnold and keeping DE Ziggy Ansah and the Lions at bay in Ford Field in four days.
"We're putting everything on Sam's plate and he's handling it well," Long said. "You don't feel any hesitation whatsoever. He's making confident calls, getting everybody on the same page. ... You earn your respect out there on the field. He's a confident kid and it shows."
"He's done a great job of being able to communicate, understand what the defense is presenting to him, and putting us in better position to either pick up a blitz or slide a different way," Beachum said. "He's done things the right way to put us in the right position. But at the end of the day, we have to make sure we protect him."
The two linemen said above and beyond getting Darnold's pro career off on the right foot, they're pumped up to finally be together as a unit and on the doorstep of playing the games that count.
"I'm just ready for the regular season," said Long. "I'm excited. It'll be a fun atmosphere."
"It's all about us, what we do, how we control the trenches," Beachum replied. "At the end of the day, if we do our job, we'll be in a good position."