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Rex mum on Hunter-Smith trade, but assumes Howard will be Week 1 starter

Austin Howard during training camp. (July 29, 2012)

Austin Howard during training camp. (July 29, 2012) Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

Jason Smith is here in Florham Park, but that’s the extent of what Rex Ryan would say about the Jets' newly acquired, $4 million backup.

The coach said he didn’t feel comfortable speaking about the Monday night trade that sent Wayne Hunter to St. Louis in exchange for Smith, the No. 2 pick in the 2009 NFL draft.

“I know you guys will have questions for me about it, but until 4 o’clock, the trade’s not going to be finalized,” Ryan said Tuesday morning, adding that general manager Mike Tannenbaum will address the specifics of the deal this afternoon. “...I’m not really comfortable talking about it until that traded is finalized.”

Ryan initially evaded a question about Austin Howard’s long-term status as a starter, saying only that he feels “pretty good” about the third-year player. But when pressed later about his thoughts on Howard, the Jets coach said he assumes the 6-7, 330-pound right tackle will be the Week 1 starter – that is, unless former Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (an 11-time Pro Bowler) comes out of retirement.

“Last time I said something and it never worked out, something happened," Ryan said, referring to his previous statements that Hunter would be the starting right tackle this season. "But if Jonathan Ogden wants to come out of retirement, he’ll be our starter. If not, unless there’s something I’m not seeing out there, I’ve been pleased with Austin Howard, without question.

“And I would assume that he would be our starting tackle.” 


The Jets coach said Smith is in the building and likely doing his physicals at this time. As for Hunter, he’s in St. Louis.

New York Sports