Jets LG Laken Tomlinson is familiar with expectations.
Tomlinson played for the 49ers for five seasons, which included appearances in the Super Bowl and NFC Championship games. The addition of QB Aaron Rodgers has made the external expectations rise for the Jets this season and Tomlinson is not concerned.
"We're built for it, man," he said. "With Coach Saleh bringing in the right kind of guys, building the foundation, it's like we've been waiting for this moment for a long time. Now we're in it and we understand the expectation. We're here working, man, trying to try to set it up."
The offensive line didn't undergo major construction in the offseason, but the group will look much different this season than last, mostly because of players returning from injury. Tackles Duane Brown (shoulder), Mekhi Becton (knee), Max Mitchell (blood clots), and guard Alijah Vera-Tucker (triceps) all sustained season-ending injuries in 2022. Mitchell and Vera-Tucker fully participated in the offseason program while Becton, who lost roughly 50 pounds in the offseason, and Brown rehabbed to on a side field.
See the top images of the Jets during the 2023 offseason program.
General manager Joe Douglas also added reinforcements up front to be suited for the worse-case scenario, which was close to what the Green & White dealt with up front last season. The Jets had nine different starting line combinations throughout regular season. The unit has a new coach, too, in Keith Carter.
"Keith is amazing man," Tomlinson said. "Definitely getting the guys in the room, teaching them the techniques and everything, especially with Coach [Nathaniel] Hackett and Aaron [Rodgers], it's great having those guys grinding and then coming in and learning these different techniques. Kudos to everyone coming in and showing up for voluntary workouts and I'm super excited for these guys up front. Knock on wood, man, everybody says healthy. We're going to be real, real good up front."
Tomlinson was one of the most consistent players on the offensive line last season. He was one of two linemen to start all 17 games (Connor McGovern) and his 1,112 snaps were the second-most on the team. He's also one of nine players on this Jets team that's played in a Super Bowl, but Tomlinson said it's a first blocking for a player of Rodgers' caliber.
"It's a true honor to have someone like that playing the position on this team," he said. "If anyone is excited, I'm sure it's the guys up front. We're super excited, man. Everyone's excited because he's a fantastic player. And the fact that he chose to stay a stay in the league and chose to be a New York Jet goes to show that he wants to do something special, and we want to do something special with him as well."
Tomlinson added: "He's threw me a pass and I thought to myself like, 'Wow, I caught a pass from Aaron Rodgers. That's legendary stuff right there.' Just going home, being able to tell my daughter that one day, it's a true story. He's really cool, man. Extremely smart and diligent. Keeps everybody on their toes when it comes to the playbook, which is great. You expect that from a quarterback, expect that from a leader, so it's a lot of fun work with every day. We see this offense coming along and we've come a long way with his leadership."