Jets could play both Ijalana and Qvale at right tackle
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets might go with rotating right tackles in their regular-season opener — and maybe beyond.
Coach Todd Bowles said Monday that both Ben Ijalana (EYE-juh-LAH-nuh) and Brent Qvale (KWAH-lee) could play the position against Cincinnati on Sunday.
“Until it sorts itself out, yes,” Bowles said. “It’s possible.”
The two offensive linemen are competing for the spot, which is open because starter Breno Giacomini is out for out least the next six weeks while on the physically unable to perform list with a back injury.
Giacomini missed all of training camp with the injury, but neither Ijalana nor Qvale established himself as the clear-cut replacement.
Still, the Jets didn’t put in any claims on the waiver wire over the weekend as teams made final cuts.
“I’ve been in this league for 16, 17 years,” Bowles said. “Right tackles don’t fall off trees. You’re not going to claim a starting right tackle in this league. They’re like quarterbacks.”
Ijalana has played in seven games in five NFL seasons, mostly on special teams while also serving as a backup left tackle. D’Brickashaw Ferguson was the Jets’ starting left tackle the last 10 years before retiring during the offseason, and he never missed a game or practice in his career — which left Ijalana with no opportunities for playing time on the offensive line.
The 27-year-old Ijalana was re-signed by the Jets in April and moved over to right tackle during offseason workouts. He was comfortable at the new spot by the time New York played its first preseason game last month.
“I felt like I had a strong camp,” Ijalana said. “I was pleased I was able to manage the transition from left to right tackle.”
Qvale is entering his second full season and has started one game, lining up as a jumbo tight end.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was undeterred by the suggestion that a rotation at right tackle could impact the continuity of the offensive line.
“We’ve got to put five linemen out there, so whatever five they’re going to be, we’re going to trust they’re going to be the right ones,” Fitzpatrick said. “Both of those guys have been working really hard and have done a good job. We’ll see how it ends up going, but that’s not anything that is of concern to me.”
Ijalana said Giacomini has helped him with perfecting techniques and pointed out some tips as he continues to learn the position.
“I’m just happy to be in the race,” he said.
NOTES: The Jets’ public relations department made a clerical error Sunday when it announced former Stony Brook LB Victor Ochi had been signed to the practice squad. Ochi, who was waived by Baltimore without an injury designation, visited the Jets, but did not sign with the team after not passing his physical. He injured a shoulder in the Ravens’ preseason finale and is expected to be out 1-2 weeks. The Jets still plan to sign Ochi to their practice squad when he is healthy. ... WRs Brandon Marshall (hips) and Quincy Enunwa (concussion) practiced and will be ready for the season opener. Bowles wouldn’t say if he was optimistic about the status of LB David Harris (shoulder). “I’ve got to see him hit somebody,” he said. “It’s still early in the week.” ... Jalin Marshall, one of three rookie WRs to make the Jets’ roster, will serve as the team’s primary returner Sunday. ... Bowles on the Jets keeping four QBs with Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg: “They all can play and we’re trying to keep the best football players. Each of them showed enough in the preseason. (We’ll) give (Hackenberg) a redshirt year and the other three can play.” ... The Jets currently have Kellen Davis, Brandon Bostick, Braedon Bowman and Eric Parker at TE, but Bowles said it’s too early to tell whether they’ll keep all four. “Probably not,” he said. “But we’ll see what happens.”
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