All five of these players have been on our 53-man roster since opening day, they’ve missed just three games combined (Milliner’s hamstring injury kept him out for Weeks 4-6), and in their combined 67 games played, the group has accumulated 55 starts.
“I think this is an outstanding class, top to bottom,” head coach Rex Ryan said on Dec. 4. “I’m excited about the guys of this draft class. I think it’s going to be a real strength for this franchise moving forward.”
Lost in the shuffle, however, are our two other Class of 2013 selections: offensive linemen
These two 22-year-old rookies have also been included in the list of 53 since the beginning of the season, although neither one has been declared active for gameday so far this year.
“I’d like to be out there and kind of getting my feet wet and contributing as much as possible,” Aboushi said, “but you’ve got to know your role on a team and I guess mine this year is continuing to grow and continuing to benefit from practice.”
Aboushi (6’5”, 308), our fifth-round selection out of Virginia, has been used primarily at the left and right tackle positions. Campbell (6’4”, 311), our sixth-round pick out of Michigan, has been playing a lot of guard, some center, and a little bit of tackle as well.
“Things have been going pretty well,” Aboushi said. “I’m trying to stay patient, stay the course, every day go out there with a purpose, every rep I get try and make the best of it and try to get better. It’s been an experience, definitely a big learning curve, but I’m kind of just accepting it and rolling with the punches right now and trying to control what I can control.”
And that optimistic mentality has paid off, as he’s “come a long way since OTAs,” improving on every aspect of his game throughout this season.
Meanwhile, Campbell’s transition into the NFL has been slightly more challenging since he was a defensive tackle at Michigan. Playing on the flip side of the line of scrimmage is “still in the back of my mind,” he said, but with the help of his fellow linemates and coaches, he’s also been progressing steadily.
“I think it’s coming more natural where I see a lot more things than I did the first day,” he said. “I’m seeing the big picture and not just my window or who I’ve got, so from Day One to now, I think I’ve gotten a lot better.”
Surely it’s disappointing to dress in a suit and tie while others are throwing on shoulder pads and jerseys before the start of a game. Perhaps one or both of them will make their NFL regular-season debuts in Games 15 or 16, especially now that the Jets are officially eliminated from playoff contention. Regardless, these two rookies are taking everything in stride and learning all they can in the meantime.
“This first year, I’ve just been taking in as much as I can as fast as I can,” Campbell said. “Just seeing how the older guys take on gameweeks and how they prepare for who they’re going against, just looking on from the back of the room to see how they take on becoming a professional.”
“I know the coaches know what they’re doing,” Aboushi said, “and I trust their judgment. They’re giving me this chance to continue to practice, continue to grow, and to be geared up for what’s hopefully a bigger year next year for me personally.”