Jets tackle latest victim of Big Apple disease

New York Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez celebrates with tackle Wayne Hunter after he threw his...

New York Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez celebrates with tackle Wayne Hunter after he threw his third touchdown pass of the day to wide receiver Plaxico Burress against the San Diego Chargers in the fourth quarter of their National Football League game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, October 23, 2011. (Ray Stubblebine/REUTERS)

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:34 PM ET

Sometimes New York just chews up and spits out its pro athletes. There's no kinder way to put it.

That appears to have happened with Wayne Hunter, the beleaguered right offensive tackle for the New York Jets.

He struggled, and mightily, in the Jets' preseason games against the Bengals and Giants. A green and white pylon, really.

And even though head coach Rex Ryan reiterated Tuesday that Hunter was his man at RT, Ryan announced two days later that Hunter was out.

After Thursday's practice, the ousted Hunter faced reporters and all but told them the Big Apple expectorated him.

Appears his confidence is completely shot.

"I wasn't surprised," he told reporters. "Everyone knows. The whole NYC knows I was struggling. I was waiting for it, to be honest.

"They got to make moves now. The Bills are around the corner."

That would be the Buffalo Bills, the AFC East arch-rival the Jets open the season against on Sept. 9. Superstar defensive end -- and LEFT defensive end -- Mario Williams will tee off for the first time as a Bill against whomever the Jets are able to put out there at right tackle to protect quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Williams has to be licking his chops.

As for the Jets, to hit the reset button at such a crucial position this close to the season is alarming. The club and its coaches have been saying all year that Hunter was the answer at right tackle. They even guaranteed him $2.4 million.

Whoops.

Now Hunter will earn that only as an unglorified third tackle in ultra-power formations.

Unless the Jets trade for a better option, Justin Howard -- a three-year bench-rider the Jets claimed from the Ravens last November -- replaces Hunter.

Howard took every snap at right tackle at Thursday's Jets practice, according to the New York Daily News.

Stay tuned.

MAYBE THEY'RE NIHILISTS:

Jerry Jones evidently has gone blind.

The Cowboys owner told a Dallas radio station that the replacement refs aren't impacting preseason games, and won't "as long as it's the same for both sides."

Yes, it's the same. Crappy, uneven, unfair, unfunny and disconcerting.

Then commissioner Roger Goodell weighed in, insisting Thursday that replacement officials "have been trained" (whew) and "we think they'll do a very credible job."

To quote John Goodman's character, Walter Sobchak, in The Big Lebowski: "HAS THE WHOLE WORLD GONE CRAZY?! AM I THE ONLY ONE AROUND HERE WHO GIVES A **** ABOUT THE RULES?!"

The league is over the line, and we're all entering a world of pain, Smokey.

WALKING WOUNDED, UPDATES:

Around the horn we go:

* Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, who tore his left ACL and MCL in December, is indeed progressing ahead of schedule, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

AP has experienced no swelling in his knee the morning after practices, something that's evidently common. As well, Peterson is in the "early stages" of "upper-body contact" in practices, but hitting him below the waist remains verboten.

Sounds like he has a decent shot to play in the Vikes' opener.

* Eagles QB Michael Vick told USA Today he's "80%" healthy, after bruising his ribs Sunday night against the Pats. "I'm trying to do the best I can," he said of avoiding injuries this year. "I'm feeling better. Hanging in there. Trying to make it to Sept. 9."

* Jets WR Santonio Holmes said he is confident he'll play Sunday against the Panthers, even though his ribs, back and a hamstring are still sore.

* According to the Detroit News, Lions RB Jahvid Best is likely to remain on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list to start the season. If so, he can't play until Week 7 at the earliest. But Mikel Leshoure hasn't miss a drill all week and should play Saturday at Oakland.

* Cowboys CB Mike Jenkins (surgically repaired shoulder) still hasn't suited up since last season, and is unlikely to be ready for the opener, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports.

* Redskins RB Evan Royster has a sore right knee. An MRI was negative. "I probably just cut a little too hard and caused some irritation. It's nothing serious," he told Rich Campbell of the Washington Times.

EXTRA POINTS: Word leaked out of Seattle that Russell Wilson, the rookie QB from Wisconsin, has to show Friday at KC he is "significantly" better than free-agent signee Matt Flynn in order to wrest the starter's job from him ... RB Clinton Portis officially announced his retirement. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder called him "one of the greatest players in NFL history." Honest ... Ravens fans may have been exposed to rabies at last Friday's home game against the Detroit Lions. Insert punchline here ... The NFLPA rejected proposed changes to the injured-reserve list and the trade deadline. In road-hockey parlance, they've taken their net and gone home ... The Steelers determined 17 days before the season that their special-teams coach wasn't so special. They whacked Al Everest on Thursday. Assistant ST coach Amos Jones now climbs Everest's mountain (couldn't resist).

john.kryk@sunmedia.ca

@JohnKryk

blogs.canoe.ca/krykslants/


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