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Jets sign free-agent OTs Heyer and Willis

Washington Redskins offensive tackle Stephon Heyer before a

Washington Redskins offensive tackle Stephon Heyer before a game between the Giants. (Dec. 5, 2010) Credit: AP

The Jets shored up their offensive line Tuesday, signing veteran free-agent tackles Stephon Heyer and Ray Willis to one-year deals, the team announced.

Heyer and Willis have a total of 61 NFL starts and are expected to challenge Wayne Hunter for the right tackle position.

Heyer, an undrafted free-agent signed by Washington in 2007, played four years with the Redskins and started all 16 games at right tackle in 2009. The six-year veteran spent last season in Oakland, where he started two of the nine games he played.

Willis, a fourth-round pick of Seattle in 2005, spent five seasons with the Seahawks before a knee injury forced him to miss the 2010 season.

During his time in Seattle, Willis played both right tackle and right guard. Last season, he spent training camp in Miami under Tony Sparano and offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo. After being cut by the Dolphins, Willis joined the Saints' practice squad midway through the season.

Though Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said in April that Hunter would have to fight for his starting job against 2010 pick Vladimir Ducasse, Hunter declared himself the starter earlier this month.

"As far as my role, I'm the starting right tackle, it's as simple as that," Hunter said. "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."

DeGuglielmo, the Jets' new offensive line coach, echoed those sentiments, saying earlier this month that there are at least 20 other NFL teams that would take Hunter "in a heartbeat."

"Until they ship him out of here or shoot me dead in my office," DeGuglielmo said, "the guy's the starting right tackle."


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