Even though Jets head coach Todd Bowles hasn't named his tackle starters, Brandon Shell is preparing as if he'll receive the nod.
"The competition helps," Shell said. "But I always came with the mindset that I'm going to work regardless if I'm the starter or the backup."
When asked after Wednesday's practice, Bowles said he won't name his starters for strategic reasoning.
Shell has been competing for the starting spot with Ben Ijalana and Brent Qvale throughout training camp and the preseason. Shell started the last two preseason matchups in addition to the final three games of 2016.
"The game has slowed down a lot," he said. "I got more comfortable at my position and I'm just more confident. I feel like I can go out there and play with these guys."
And that comfort level extends past the white lines.
"For me, I feel more comfortable being in the locker room this year," Shell said. "I'm talking to a lot more guys. Being a rookie, you don't want to mess around, but now I'm comfortable with the guys, talking to a lot of guys. I just feel like it's become more and more of a family in this locker room."
The second-year pro has become close with T Kelvin Beachum, whom the Jets signed in free agency. Shell has been leaning on Beachum because he has five seasons under his belt.
"I try to pick Beach's brain every chance I get," he said. "I try to ask how he does certain steps and watch his technique. I try to pick up things from his game and add it to mine, but switch it up in a different way. I just did that with a lot of the guys that came here like Ryan Clady, Breno Giacomini, Ben Ijalana. I try to take little pieces from everyone's game and incorporate it in mine."
The 6'5", 324-pounder has been focusing on his footwork and different steps with offensive line coach Steve Marshall. If he starts on Sunday, he'll line up opposite a talented Bills front that features the NFL's No. 3 sack leader in 2016, OLB Lorenzo Alexander.
"They didn't show too much in the preseason, but obviously we played them last year," Shell said. "It was a different defense last year, but we played the same guys. They have a great rusher in Hughes and Shaq Lawson. Those guys in the middle with Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus, they have a pretty good front four."