Part V of our training-camp preview:
Unit: Offensive Line
Depth Chart: (C) Nick Mangold, Rob Turner, Robby Felix, (G) Brandon Moore, Matt Slauson, Vladimir Ducasse, Marlon Davis, Charlie Tanner, (T) D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Damien Woody, Wayne Hunter, Dan Gay, Michael Turkovich, Aaron Kia.
On the Bubble: Felix, Davis, Tanner, Gay, Turkovich, Kia.
Player to Watch: Ducasse. Big Vlad, a second-round pick, will compete with Slauson for Alan Faneca’s old job at left guard. Ducasse has the physical skill and the right mentality, but he’s green and there will be growing pains.
Wild Card: Mangold. There’s nothing “wild” about his play on the field – he might be the best center in the league – but there’s some uncertainty as to whether he will show up. Mangold, unhappy with his contract, has dropped hints about a holdout. He’s due to make $3.3 million, hardly chump change, so look for him to be there.
Analysis: For two seasons, the Jets' line was as stable and consistent as any unit in the NFL – on either side of the ball. Now, change -- a new left guard. Rookie Vladimir Ducasse and second-year backup Matt Slauson probably will rotate with the starting unit until one of them separates. Clearly, the organization wants Ducasse to grab it, especially after all the criticism it took for dumping perennial Pro Bowler Alan Faneca. The question is, can Ducasse make the adjustment to Bill Callahan’s zone-blocking scheme? It’s all about timing, technique and precision – a big leap for the former UMass star. Slauson would be the safe choice, but his ceiling isn’t as high as that of Ducasse.
For the most part, it should be business as usual for the rest of the starters – LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson, C Nick Mangold, RG Brandon Moore and RT Damien Woody. With an inexperienced left guard between them, Ferguson and Mangold will be in a teaching mode, taking Ducasse and Slauson under their wings.
The top backups are set with Rob Turner, Wayne Hunter and the Ducasse-Slauson loser, allowing Callahan to go eight deep. That’s solid depth. They’d like one of the newbies to step forward and be a developmental player for the future.