New York Jets news, commentary and insider info from beat writer Kimberley A. Martin.
Wayne Hunter: I’m here to stay
Wayne Hunter was forthcoming about his shortcomings last season, but at the end of the day: he’s still the Jets right tackle.
According to Hunter, the Jets made it clear that he’s the starter -- and that was all the assurance he needed heading into this season.
“As far as my role, I’m the starting right tackle, that’s as simple as it is,” he said, following Thursday’s offseason conditioning. “Whatever happens come opening day, during the season, so be it, but I am the starting right tackle now and that’s all that matters to me.
“They told me, and I know that and it’s as clear as mud,” he added with a laugh.
Hunter admitted he was the “weakest link” on the offensive line and didn’t “pick up where Damien Woody left off.” But after playing like “a rookie” last year, Hunter said he’s finally playing with the skill and confidence of a “nine-year veteran.”
“I had good games, I had great games,” said Hunter, who was drafted by Seattle in 2003. “But I also had some bad games...My focus this year is to get better and I’m going to get better. I’m the starting right tackle and that hasn't changed whether people like it or not.”
After the Jets chose not to select a right tackle in either of the first three rounds of last month’s NFL draft, general manager Mike Tannenbaum was asked for his position on Hunter -- who is due a $2.45 million base salary.
“Having Wayne Hunter back for another year, he’ll still be competing for a position here,” Tannenbaum told reporters. “And again, we’ve got three young guys we like in Caleb (Schlauderaff), Austin (Howard) and Vlad (Ducasse), so we’ll see how that goes.”