With five minutes remaining in the second quarter of a Week 2 game last season, Jets right guard Brian Winters heard a pop.
“I still remember it like it was yesterday,” he said of the moment when everything changed during a meeting with the Raiders on Sep. 17.
That popping sound was Winters’ abdomen. Feeling running back Bilal Powell stretch to his outside on a zone run, the 6’4”, 320-pounder tried to push through his engaged defender when things went awry. The sixth-year veteran played through the pain in 11 more games, but eventually landed on injured reserve on Dec. 27.
“It was horrendous. I wouldn’t give that pain to my worst enemy,” he told reporters Monday on a conference call. “It was something that was very tough and hurtful from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed. Walking in general was painful. I’m happy I got the surgery and got it fixed. I’m excited for the season.”
Following his offseason rehab in Dallas, Winters was fully cleared for the offseason conditioning program that began this week at One Jets Drive. He is excited to finally be himself on the field and hopes to regain his 2016 form, which led to a multi-year contract extension.
“It’s going to be a game changer,” Winters said of his health. “If you put an offensive guard out there with one leg and have him try to do what he’s supposed to, it’s kind of tough. I understand what you saw and what the fans saw, but us a group and us a team, we’re excited. We have new pieces and everyone is healthy across the board. It’s going to be fun. We have a new coach and it should be good with him. It’s exciting.”
With the injury in the rearview, Winters is focused on the 2018 season and becoming one of the dominant offensive linemen in the league. Winters will have a new neighbor up front as the Jets signed pivot man Spencer Long in free agency.
“It’s everything,” Winters said about the communication between a guard and a center. “A center makes the calls and translates it to us and then we have to tell the tackle. Everyone has to be on the same page and when you have good people across the board, it makes life easier for everyone. You don’t have to worry about two things. You just worry about your job and your job only. It makes it carefree and you don’t have to think too much in the game and that’s what you want.”
The Green & White also added Rick Dennison as their OL coach/run-game coordinator and Winters is prepared to learn under a new teacher.
“I don’t know necessarily how much different it’ll be, but terms are going to be a lot easier for everyone to grasp and to understand,” Winters said. “I love Coach Marshall, he’s a great coach, but Dennison will be good. It’s a good change-up. He’s a very persistent person when it comes to individual training and individual work, which is good. Everyone learns differently and takes steps differently. He sees that and is going to train us all in different ways, but as a unit, we’re going to be great and going to be working hard.”