Florham Park N.J. - The forecast calls for a strong Winters season. Playing in the final year of his rookie contract, Jets right guard Brian Winters enters 2016 with much to prove. He enters training camp as the presumed starting right guard whose main challenge is to find some consistency in his game. But, this season should come slightly easier for Winters, as he will start in his natural position on the right side of an offensive line that stayed in tact during the offseason.
"We're progressing really well," Winters said on Tuesday. "We have a good group coming back. All of us played with each other last year, so it's moving where it all should be."
Winters was taken in the third-round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Throughout his first two seasons, he battled through inconsistencies. It was a struggle for Winters because he was displaced to the left side of the offensive line. At the time, the Jets had Willie Colon lined up as right guard, forcing coaches to move the young lineman to an unfamiliar position in a brand new system.
Winters transitioned back to right guard in 2015 after New York signed James Carpenter in free agency. Although he lost the starting job to Colon last year, Winters found himself starting 10 games due to Colon's chronic knee condition that led him to being placed on the season-ending injured reserve list. This allowed the young lineman to step back into a position that has always come natural to him.
"It was almost like a blessing in disguise," said Winters. "Obviously, I did a lot better since right guard is a natural position for me. I'm happy for the transition because all it did was get me better."
Winters currently stands at a crossroad in his career. Being that this is the final year left on his rookie contract, he wants to prove to management that he deserves to be the full-time starting right guard. There are no more distractions nor anybody ahead of him on the team's depth chart. This is his job to lose. He has last year's 10-game sample size, including his lockdown of Ndamukong Suh in London, as evidence proving he is ready to be the starter.
"As a group, we just have to look back at the film and study what we were successful at," Winters said about building off of last year's success. "We just have to push forward and work on what we were lacking."
Despite being ranked 10th in the league in rushing last season, the Jets offensive line had their collective issues. Injuries and penalties were major reasons that stunned the full growth of the unit. But, with youth infused into the team's depth chart, Winters believes this year could be special even without D'Brickashaw Ferguson.
"We have good team depth," said Winters. "We have players that can play in all positions. Clady has experience, he's a successful player who understands what it takes, and we will move forward with him."
The Jets have plenty of weapons Winters and Co. will be responsible for protecting in 2016. He is thrilled to have Ryan Fitzpatrick back in the fold but also expressed his excitement of new running back Matt Forte.
For Winters, he is confident a new season back in his natural position will benefit this team.
"I'm a lot more comfortable this year. I feel great and I feel confident. Right guard is my position."
Joe Barone is a staff writer for JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@28JoeBarone), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).