Jets bench embattled right tackle Wayne Hunter

August 23, 2012

Mark Sanchez was often pressured Saturday night, which prompted a change on the offensive line. (Rich Schultz / AP)

Coach Rex Ryan solved this one, benching right tackle Wayne Hunter, the guy the New York Times dubbed “the league’s most criticized right tackle.” earlier this week Hunter will be a “sixth man” now, Ryan said, with Austin Howard replacing him.

“Right now, I believe this is in the best interest of our team,” Ryan said (via the New York Daily News). He did not, though, rule out seeking help.

“You’re always evaluating your team. If Jonathan Ogden called me up and said, ‘Rex, I’d like to come back,’ then Ogden’s our starting right tackle,” Ryan joked. “I think that’s a mistake I made early [when he named Hunter the starter]. I need to see Austin with this group going against Carolina’s starters.”

Hunter, who gave up 11 sacks and was whistled for 11 penalties last season, was one of the worst offensive linemen in the league and it’s a bit perplexing that the Jets have so few options. Against the Giants last weekend, Hunter gave up 2.5 sacks and another was nullified. For now, the team will use him as a sixth man in jumbo packages, where he’s had success. His $2.45 million base salary became guaranteed in the offseason, so he cannot be cut.

“Is he perfect as a starting tackle? No,” Ryan said. “But you know what? Nobody’s perfect. But I’m saying this: I know the success he had in the first two years in this role, I think, can really be helpful for this team.”

Follow us: @CindyBoren | @MattBrooksWP

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After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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