Jets have eye on veteran offensive lineman

The Jets are in dire need of veteran guard help, and one might be on the way.<p>

The Kansas City Chiefs released long-time backup offense lineman Marcus Spears yesterday, and expect the Jets to make a run at him. We hear Jets offensive coordinator Paul Hackett is very concerned with the team's guard situation, and thinks it could hurt the offense.

The Jets have had their eye on Spears for a while.

"We've already talked to some teams and had been toying around with trading him," said Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil. "But teams knew that eventually we might let him go and they might get him for less."

And the Jets are one of those teams.

The Jets currently are starting Brandon Moore at right guard, and Brent Smith on the left side. While they plan on going into the season with that duo, the players behind them have little experience. The two primary backups at guard, Jonathan Goodwin and Dave Yovanovits, are big question marks. Remember backup guard-center J.P. Machado was not re-signed. His lack of athleticism was a big reason the Jets took a pass on him.

But while the Jets would be adding Spears as a backup, they also need quality insurance in case the raw Moore doesn't pan out, or Smith's problematic knees act up.

The 32-year-old Spears (6-5, 320) is just what the Jets need. He had 18 starts during his 10 years in the league. He saw his most extensive duty in 2001 when he started all 16 games on Kansas City's offensive line. He started the first five contests of the campaign at right guard before injuries to other members of the offensive line forced his move to right tackle for the remaining 11 games.

The fact that he can backup at tackle is appealing to the Jets as well. The only veteran backup tackle they have is Smith, and he is starting at guard. To add a player like Spears would give the Jets much better insurance on the offensive line. He can backup at both guard and tackle positions.

The Jets have a great chance at getting Spears because of his relationship with GM Terry Bradway, who came to the New York from Kansas City. Also, Herman Edwards is extremely close with Dick Vermeil. The two coaches have talked about the player, and Vermeil could help steer Spears to New York.

The Chiefs still think Spears can play, but they have a glut of players on the offensive line, including newcomers Chris Bober (Giants) and John Welbourne (Eagles). They could have been selfish and kept Spears around into training camp in case of an injury, but the Vermeil didn't want to do that to the classy veteran.

"This decision is a result of the development of our younger offensive linemen and those players acquired through trades and free agency," said Vermeil. "I know he can still play and I'd like him to get a really good opportunity."

And there is a very good chance that opportunity will come in New York.

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