It is an odd coincidence that Brian Winters entering his first NFL season has been moved to guard. After the Jets selected Winters an all-conference left tackle at Kent State last year in the third round of April’s draft the Hudson Ohio native and his girlfriend searched for a home far from New York.

"I come from a smaller town in Ohio so I’m not used to the big-city stuff" Winters said. "We like to stay out of the way."

Since the start of training camp at SUNY Cortland — "This is pretty much like my hometown" Winters said "it’s a really good feel" — Winters has been close to the action. Guards are placed on each side of the center along the offensive line. Once the ball is snapped they immediately crash into the defensive line wrestling to control the line of scrimmage.

"At guard everything happens right now" said Willie Colon a Jets guard who has mentored Winters. "At tackle it’s about patience and timing and head placement. At guard from the time the ball is snapped everything is in your face."

Despite Winters’ inexperience at guard — he played there only during his junior season at Kent State — he has excelled at the heart of the offensive line.

With both first-team guard positions open Winters and Colon have received the majority of the snaps as bookends to Nick Mangold at center including during Saturday night’s Green and White scrimmage -- though Winters left early due to what Rex Ryan called a minor ankle injury.
In a training camp dominated by story lines featuring rookies -- from Geno Smith to Dee Milliner and Sheldon Richardson -- Winters has as good a chance as any rookie on the roster to start come Week 1.

As Mike Westhoff the former Jets special teams coach tells it Winters jumped onto the Jets’ radar unexpectedly. Prior to the draft Westhoff and Ryan the Jets head coach were watching Senior Bowl film on defensive lineman who kept getting bowled over by the 6-4 320-pound Winters.

"Everybody he played in the Senior Bowl he beat up" Westhoff said.

Winters’ tenacity — nastiness in football parlance — has aided the transition. The more difficult aspect he says is adjusting to playing in a confined area or "the elevator" as football coaches call it.

Tackles operate more independently "on an island" at the end of the line. Guards in contrast must remain low and balanced and keep their hands tight to punch at a defender’s chest. Officials are well-positioned to call penalties on guards if technique fails.