A baptism by fire produced strong results for Jets right tackle Austin Howard, who made just his second NFL start in Sunday’s 48-28 win over the Bills.
The emergence of Howard during training camp paved the way for the Jets to trade Wayne Hunter to the Rams. But as impressive as his training camp was, Howard still had a tall order going against Mario Williams.
“I respect him a ton. I learned a lot today. Going up against a talented defensive end that he is, it was a battle out there. Fortunately we came away with the win,” Howard said. “A lot of preparation went into this week — film time, studying on your own, more film, making sure you’re very familiar with the playbook and everything.”
After the game, Williams was critical of Howard, saying he should have been called for penalties that were missed.
“Obviously, some of the officials on the field don’t understand what
constitutes an offsetting penalty and that’s disappointing,” Williams
said. “Also, pass blocking doesn’t include hands to the face. When
someone tells the officials that, and they just walk away, or they don’t
call it, that is disheartening.”
On paper, it didn’t seem like the match-up would favor Howard. On the field, however, Williams was limited to just one tackle in the game. Williams came into the game with 53 sacks.
“Buffalo has some serious pass rushers, especially with Mario Williams. Austin Howard played a tremendous game,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “Maybe he made a name for himself today.”
Howard, who is very humble and self-deprecating, credits the work of the coaching staff and his teammates for his more than respectable debut on the offensive line. The one thing that surprised him on Sunday wasn’t the speed of the game or the task of going up against Williams, rather it was “how much of a battle an entire full game can be as a starter” can be.
The nerves were there, he admits, but it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.
“I get nervous before every game actually. I was really excited for this game; we were all excited. We have something special here as an offense and a team. I was really anxious to get out there and show what you can do,” Howard said.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.