New York Jets left tackle Carter Warren wasn’t expected to get any playing time this season.
As a fourth-round pick who spent most of training camp on the injury report, 2023 was seen as a chance to learn a pro-style offense and learn behind quality veterans like Duane Brown and Mekhi Becton. Injuries, as they’ve done over the last few years, have altered the Jets’ approach to their entire class though with Warren being thrust into game action late in the year.
Luckily for Gang Green, the early returns from Warren’s first NFL start last week against Miami, and mop-up duty against Buffalo have been more than promising.
“He’s been doing a really nice job,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh explained. “He’s got such great body control and footwork with regards to his sets, run game, and all that stuff. He’s only going to get better, but considering that he missed all of OTAs & training camp, for him to put out the tape that he’s put out, he’s only gonna get better and it’s exciting to see him develop. He’s got a chance to stick for a while.”
Warren’s strong performance in his first couple of starts has shown exactly the type of player he was in college. With the Pittsburgh Panthers, the top overall recruit out of New Jersey started over 20 games in his collegiate career. As a team captain, Warren was the kind of player the Panthers built their offense around – only for a season-ending injury in his final season to derail his draft stock a tad in April.
New York took a chance on Warren knowing that he would not be fully healthy this season. Over the last two weeks, he’s given the Jets a chance to see what he could be like as an everyday starter along the offensive line at some of the most important positions.
“I feel the big thing is being prepared at all times,” Warren told AMNY. “Me going in there against Buffalo, I didn’t expect to go in, but the way we practice, the way we prepare, I was ready to go. I’m grateful for my coaches.”
A big reason for the rookie’s success though has been the veteran presence behind him. With Duane Brown trying to return from a hip injury that has kept him out since Week 2, and Mekhi Becton’s ankle injury that cost him the last game and a half, Warren has looked to both to guide as he traverses through his first few weeks as a starter.
Luckily for the Pitt product, there aren’t many mentors that have the playing experience of Brown.
“It’s huge. He’s seen it all. If it’s a guy he’s seen multiple times, he gives everyone tips. I appreciate having him around,” Warren explained. “I sit right next to him in film rooms. They give me little tips on what to work on and look for. I appreciate him and everything he’s done for me.”
It’s unclear whether Warren will start his second straight game against the Atlanta Falcons, or if he will be the immediate backup with Brown and Becton expected back on the field. While Saleh remained coy about who will be starting at either tackle spot, there’s reason to believe that the fourth-round rookie will be seeing plenty of additional playing time over the last month of the year.
If he performs anything like he has been to this point, the Jets very well may have stumbled upon a changing of the guard at the most important position on the offensive line.