Wayne Hunter has heard all the criticism from the fans and the media. He is aware that he was the most maligned player on the Jets offensive line and that he didn’t play up to his capabilities.
So the trade earlier this week that sent an undisclosed draft pick to Carolina to acquire Jeff Otah wasn’t a surprise to Hunter. What was a surprise was that a move didn’t happen sooner.
“I didn’t take it personally at all. I expected them to bring in high-profile guys earlier in the offseason to challenge me, challenge my spot,” Hunter, who was ranked by ProFootballFocus.com as the fifth-worst starting tackle in the league last year, told Metro New York. “It is no surprise to me that they’d bring in a guy for camp. It isn’t a surprise to me; it is motivation if anything.”
Otah, a former first-round pick, has battled injuries much of the last three seasons, but he’s a right tackle with an upside as big as his 6-foot-6, 340-pound dimensions. By all accounts he’s a run blocker, something the Jets need and want given their return to the “ground and pound” offense this year. The trade seems like a perfect gamble from the Jets.
But Otah failed his physical on Thursday, sidelining him from training camp for at least the next week. Hunter isn’t concerned by the challenge that Otah, if healthy, presents him for the starting job. Conversations with general manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan let him know where he stands with the team.
Sprinkle in a little bravado and Hunter said he just wants to show up and play.
“I had a couple conversations with Rex and Mike about the situation. I feel good about it,” Hunter said. “It’s my job to lose. If anyone is going to beat me it’s not going to be the competition, it’s going to be me. I’m going to beat myself if I lose this.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for live updates from camp in Cortland.