When Kelechi Osemele arrived as the newest addition to the offensive line back in March, the Jets’ intentions became clear — protect quarterback quarterback Sam Darnold.
After a busy spring learning a new offense, the first-time New Yorker is confident that his teammates in the trenches are on the right track.
“We’ve got some dogs on the inside and Brian Winters and Jonotthan (Harrison) in the middle. I think it’s going to be really good for us running the ball, protecting the quarterback and keeping him clean,” Osemele said. “Kelvin Beachum is obviously an eighth-year veteran and is highly skilled at what he does, and (Brandon) Shell has been coming along and getting better. I think we’re plugging along and we’re exactly where we need to be right now.”
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The 6’5”, 330-pound lineman comes from an experienced background that has provided valuable insight into his position. After spending four years with the Baltimore Ravens (2012-15), where he won a Super Bowl, Osemele then played three seasons with the Oakland Raiders and earned Pro Bowl honors in both 2016 and 2017 and was a first-team All-Pro in ’16. While Osemele has a decorated résumé, he isn’t the only experienced competitor along the Jets offensive line.
“This is a very mature group. A lot of these guys have been starting for a long time already, so there really isn’t any pressure for me to be anybody’s big brother to babysit,” said Osemele. “Guys are professionals and we have a lot of guys who are trying to come into some bigger contracts and want to do well for themselves. And there’s obviously guys that want to play at a Pro Bowl level. Everybody has an accountability and something that they’re trying to accomplish on this line, so we’re pretty self-sufficient and self-motivated, and we’re pretty driven.”
While the eighth-year veteran has successfully started to adjust to his teammates up front, the next test for the offensive line will be to do the same with the patient and unique running style of RB Le’Veon Bell.
“Obviously we’re going to have to feel it out when the pads come out, because it’s completely different without pads right now, so it’s too early to tell,” Osemele said. “But we have the technique that we’re being taught to be able to handle anything.”