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Second-Round Pick Vladimir Ducasse Excited To Work With Jets' First-Team Offensive Line
Second-round pick Vladimir Ducasse excited to work with Jets’ first-team offensive line
Vladimir Ducasse was drafted into the NFL a month ago. And last Thursday, he found himself practicing with the first team of an offensive line that paved the way for the league’s best rushing game last season.
“It is exciting to be able to go with the ones,” the Jets’ second-round pick said after the third day of OTAs last week. “Pretty much we’re trying to get me exposed to as much as possible.”
That exposure includes a new position – left guard – after three years as a starting left tackle at UMass. The 6-5, 330-pound Ducasse is embracing the change, saying “I’m a guard” and explaining that he thinks he’s physically a better fit for that position. He’s also been adjusting to the speed of the game, coming from the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision, but admitted he still needs time until he’s comfortable doing things like changing a call at the line of scrimmage.
But while Ducasse is still raw, the Jets have confidence in him. They cut nine-time Pro Bowl left guard Alan Faneca during the draft and said Ducasse and second-year pro Matt Slauson would compete for the starting left guard job. It was Ducasse, though, who took all the reps there last Thursday.
“It’s great to watch him,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “He came to an ideal situation. He’s going to be sandwiched in between Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Oh, by the way, you’ve got the best coach in the league, too, with Bill Callahan sitting right there. I have a funny feeling that he’s going to be a terrific player for us, I really do.”
The veterans are allowing Callahan, the Jets’ offensive line coach, to mold Ducasse, Mangold said, but have stepped in to give him pointers.
“(Right guard) Brandon (Moore) was working with him the other day on pass protection,” Mangold said, “Last Tuesday or so, we had a zone block that we were trying to give him pointers on. So he’s coming along. It’s little things here and there.”
The line as a whole has been working on technique so far during these OTAs, and Mangold said their meetings have been pretty quiet because they’re trying to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. But he’s interested to see Ducasse emerge in training camp, when the mental side of the game catches up to his physical ability.
For now, Ducasse is absorbing as much as he can as a rookie among veterans.
“I feel blessed to be in a situation like this,” he said, “so I’m taking advantage of it.”
By Jenny Vrentas, The Star-Ledger