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Rookie Winters gaining ground on Ducasse for LG spot

Jets offensive guard Brian Winters talks with reporters

Jets offensive guard Brian Winters talks with reporters during training camp. (Aug. 2, 2013) Credit: Hans Pennink

Rex Ryan has talked up Vladimir Ducasse in recent days – so much so, that it appeared the former second-round pick was a shoo-in to start the season at left guard. But the competition between Ducasse – a fourth-year lineman -- and the rookie still rages on.

“We talk about competition, and there’s a great battle between Vlad and Brian Winters for that starting guard spot. We’ll see how that goes,” Ryan said, following their 27-20 win over the Eagles in their preseason finale.

From what newcomer Willie Colon’s heard, Ducasse is having the best camp of his career. But Winters started Thursday night's game at left guard, while Ducasse was at right guard. 

Behind a backup offensive line featuring Winters, Ducasse, Jason Smith, Caleb Schlauderaff and Oday Aboushi, Matt Simms was sacked seven times for a loss of 57 yards in the first half. But the unit -- minus Smith – didn’t allow a single sack in the second half.

“You just have to calm down. That’s all it is,” Colon, the veteran right guard said. “All those guys know it’s their last game. All those guys know that maybe, 1 out of 5, or 2 out of 5 will still be here. The rest will be gone. So you’ve just got to calm your nerves. You’ve got to be able to see things. (The Eagles) blitzed us early a lot. The run game was stagnant a little bit. But once the run game was opened up, we got them on their heels a little bit and then the line calmed down.”

In time, Winters will learn to calm down too, said Colon. The former Steeler and Super Bowl champ said he sees a lot of himself in Winters, whom he described as “young, strong and bushy-tailed.” And when it’s all said and done, the Jets’ third-round pick will eventually be All Pro, said the veteran O-lineman.

“It’s two different guys,” Colon said of the position battle between Ducasse and Witners. “Vlad is four years in, so he’s a little more seasoned. Winters had the injury, played a little bit last week – started off a little slow (against the Giants) but got it together – and this week he did the same thing. For offensive linemen, it’s about reps. You have to be able to go out there, sometimes you have tunnel vision. It’s hard to see the big picture. You’re only able to see the big picture through reps and being with the guys, playing.

“It’s just two different scenarios. But I think Winters did a great job calming himself down. He played well, he looked strong. Vlad played well too. So I think it’s going to be a tough (call) to make.” 

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