Over the last two seasons, Alijah Vera-Tucker has easily been the most consistent player on the New York Jets offensive line.
Over the last two seasons, the former first-round pick out of USC has played in 23 games while posting a Pro Football Focus grade of an above-average 71.8.
His only issue has been staying healthy. While the guard played 16 games in his rookie season, his successful sophomore season was cut short after seven games with a torn triceps injury suffered against Denver. Heading into his third season with the Jets though, AVT is healthy and should be ready to go for training camp.
“I’m doing well right now. Doing well with my rehab, doing great, should be ready by camp, and I feel great. It feels good to finally be back out there doing individual,” Vera-Tucker said Wednesday afternoon.
The Jets used Vera-Tucker as a Swiss Army knife throughout the 2022 season. Due to his versatility, and the rash of injuries that the team suffered at tackle, AVT was needed to play both left and right tackle. His ability to play each position well has made him one of the most important players on the offensive line going into next season.
With a new play-caller and a new quarterback, it appears the Jets are focused more on making sure he’s ready to go back to his natural position for next season.
“It doesn’t matter. I’m always team first but talking to Coach Carter, he has a plan for me and the whole line as well,” Vera-Tucker explained. “I feel like right now I’m just taking reps at guard at OTA’s. We saw that anything can change going back to last season. You never know.”
Gang Green has brought in several offensive linemen in free agency to help improve the overall depth so they won’t need to rely on one player to play different positions throughout the year. Billy Turner and Wes Schweitzer were free agents with experience in Nathaniel Hackett’s system.
Carter Warren and Joe Tippmann were also draft picks brought in to help with their same depth problem.
Protecting the quarterback has become a chief focus for the Jets this season – perhaps more than in recent years. With the addition of Aaron Rodgers, making sure he stays upright for the next season (and potentially beyond) would be an important step to making the Jets a viable contender in the AFC.
“Just seeing him in the huddle is still a surreal feeling,” the USC product said when talking about Rodgers “He knows how to handle a huddle. It’s a lot easier. Overall, talking to him, he’s a great guy and seems pretty even-keel. So far it’s going well.”
New York is already working through OTA’s as we speak with Rodgers in attendance for most of the workouts. As long as the Jets continue to have their best offensive lineman healthy enough to protect him, Gang Green is expected to be in good hands.