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Camp Countdown: Can O-Line Become Elite?

Posted Jun 26, 2014

In the weeks leading up to the Jets 2014 Training Camp, we will take a position-by-position look at some of the key storylines to follow this summer.

The Jets tinkered with their offensive line in the offseason, but they still expect to field one of the top units in the National Football League.

“I know we have an opportunity to become one of the better offensive lines in the league,” offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. “We have talented men up front and we have depth.”

1. Giacomini Takes Over at RT: At 6’7”, Breno Giacomini casts a large shadow. A high-effort player who plays through the whistle, Giacomini replaces the departed Austin Howard, who signed a lucrative deal with the Oakland Raiders. Not an elite athlete, Giacomini is a player always ready for battle and he should provide a nasty edge up front.

2. Colon Targets Cortland: Willie Colon is on the comeback trail. After having surgery to repair a torn biceps tendon he suffered in the season finale against the Dolphins, the 31-year-old Colon had a minor arthroscopic procedure on his knee this spring. Colon, who started all 16 games in his first season with the Jets, was limited to individual drills and the stationary bike at minicamp. He is anxious to return and establish some chemistry with Giacomini.

3. Aboushi Looks for Expanded Role: You could make an argument that nobody helped themselves more this spring than Oday Aboushi. After being selected in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Virginia product was inactive for all 16 games. But the Jets moved the 6’5”, 308-pounder inside to guard and Aboushi took advantage of first-team reps with Colon on the mend. The fact that the Jets had Aboushi play at LG and Brian Winters work at RG was interesting. Operating at a position of strength on the interior, the Jets also really like the potential of William Campbell and 2014 fourth-rounder Dakota Dozier.

4. Rocks at C & LT: The Jets have had quite the luxury at two of the most important positions in football with Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson mainstays up front. Since being selected in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft, Mangold (No. 29 overall) has appeared in 133 out of a possible 135 games (including postseason) while Ferguson has not missed a game. In fact, Ferguson has missed one snap his entire career and his 128 consecutive starts are the most of any current NFL offensive linemen.

5. Smith to Help with Sacks: The Jets ranked T27th in sacks allowed (47) and 29th in yards lost after sacks (338). Mornhinweg expects that sack number (and turnover total) to be cut in half “just with experience alone” and that points to an improved Geno Smith. Pass protection starts with the QB and the line, but everyone on the offense plays a critical role in the blocking game. Cutting that sack number in half would be magnificent considering only two teams — Denver (20) and Detroit (23) — surrendered less than 29 sacks last season.

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