Last week, I talked about the play of Wayne Hunter, and how the New York Jets new starter at right tackle has settled down after a rough start and is starting to hit his stride in his first year as a full-time starter.
This week, as the Jets take a week off to refresh their minds and bodies, Hunter reflected on his rocky 2011 season with Jenny Vrentas of the Star-Ledger, talking about how he’s adjusting to his new role as a starter.
One of the things the 30-year-old Hunter did was ask left guard Matt Slauson for advice. The 25-year-old Slauson won the starting left guard job in training camp last year, and knows a thing or two about making that adjustment.
Hunter has taken his share of criticism, and Slauson told him to just relax and block that stuff out, because thinking about it is not going to help him succeed.
“I said, ‘You’ve just got to keep on playing, put it out of your mind because if you start getting into all that, it can really mess with you,’ ” Slauson said. “He’s done a great job of not worrying about anybody else, just continuing to improve every week.”
Being a starter for the first time in his career has not been the easiest of transitions for Hunter, who used to come in as an extra lineman in the jumbo package and play only a few snaps a week in years past.
“It was different pressure-wise,” Hunter said. “Being the jumbo tight end, you come in for a play, you do well and you take five plays off; come in for another play, do great, and take five plays off. It’s like a fireman’s schedule.
“But coming in and being the guy for 60, 70, 80 plays — consistency has been my issue, always been,” he said. “So if I could just find a way to stay more consistent, I’ll be fine. And I’ve been consistent over the last four, five weeks, so I’m just trying to string them all together.”
Hunter has definitely settled in nicely the last few weeks, and his growing consistency has been a welcome sight for the Jets offense.
Jets coach Rex Ryan gave Hunter a game ball for his dominating performance against Cameron Wake and the Miami Dolphins two weeks ago.
Developing into a reliable right tackle is all the Jets can ask for from Hunter, but that’s not all he aspires for. He wants to be great, even as good as Pro Bowl teammate D’Brickashaw Ferguson over on the left side.
“I want to try to at least match [Ferguson] and try to be that Pro Bowl tackle,” Hunter said. “I really just want to be consistent is my thing; I want to be consistent throughout the game. I’m still learning. We’ve got nine more games left. It’s a long season, so I still have a long way to go.”
Hunter gave up a couple of pressures last week against the Chargers but overall played a good game. But that’s not good enough for his standards anymore.
“It’s not bad, but my standards are really high for myself,” Hunter said. “And the people I know, their standards are high for me, too.”
After a well deserved week of rest, Hunter and the Jets offensive line will be refreshed and ready to dominate when they face the Buffalo Bills in Week 9.