Rookie minicamp is never easy for offensive linemen. But both Brian Winters, a third round-pick from Kent State, and Will Campbell, a sixth rounder out of Michigan, attacked their first professional weekend with good attitudes.
"It's a lot of plays. When I say that, that's what I mean," Winters told me Friday on our "Jets Talk LIVE" rookie special. "I don't even know where to start. We have probably over 100 plays that we've installed already and I've just been studying, studying and studying."
While Winters lined up at left guard at camp, Campbell manned the right guard position. After playing the majority of his collegiate career at DT, Campbell has made the move across lines.
"Being an offensive lineman, you have to be more passive I guess," he said on our JTL set. "You can't just be aggressive — you can't just always go forward and try to hit something. Run blocking you can, but pass blocking you have to be more patient. That's the biggest difference to me."
It is awfully difficult for an offensive lineman to make an instant impact on rookie weekend. Contact is limited because players are in helmets and shorts.
"It's a little different — really not used to it," Winters said. "We didn't really do much of that. We were always in pads. But it's hard not to hit someone when you don't have pads on, so that was the one thing that was kind of a transition for me."
"This is going to be a solid guy that is going to look better when he puts the pads on and he can throw people down," said head coach Rex Ryan of Winters.
Campbell didn't look like a fish out of water as Ryan said it seemed like he's been playing guard "his whole life."
"The toughest part will probably be the playbook because there are a lot more checks and a lot more things that can happen before the play," Campbell said. "Once you're on defense, you have something to stop and you have to stop it. On offense, you can see something and the quarterback can yell, "check, check" and snap the ball. I have to get it down, so as soon as he checks — I need to do it, so I can flip it either way it goes."
Even before they stepped on the field for Friday's first workout, the young linemen had a classroom session with their rookie quarterback at the hotel.
"Me and Oday (Aboushi) are roommates and we've been getting some of the guys together and just working together, trying to get everything figured out," Winters said. "We met with Geno (Smith) and worked the snap cadence out beforehand, so we didn't go out there all blind. We were just doing things to prepare ourselves for this practice."
Campbell's roommate on this first weekend was the quarterback he protected on the field.
"Great guy. All the stuff is on his back right now and he's handling it perfectly," Campbell said of Smith. "He came off to me as a leader as soon as I started to talk with him… He came in and helped me out with my playbook, helped me transition."
Jets offensive line coach Mike Devlin worked on technique throughout camp with his group.
"He is really big on quick feet and quick hands," Winters said of Devlin. "There are a lot of things you can get away with in college, but everyone in the NFL is a great player. So first it's your hands."
The Jets addressed their line in a big way on draft weekend, signing FA guard Stephen Peterman and selecting Winters (D3, No. 72), Aboushi (D5, No. 141) and Campbell (D6, No. 178).
"I just want to show the coaches that I came to compete," Campbell said. "I came to show them that I'm not here to play around. I'm ready for this transition, ready to go and ready to play like a Jet."