FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Matt Slauson told his parents to stay home in Nebraska throughout the preseason, uncertain how much playing time he’d get for the New York Jets.
The Slausons can now book their trip to the Big Apple.
Coach Rex Ryan announced Thursday that Slauson won the starting job at left guard against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night after beating out second-round draft pick Vladimir Ducasse.
“It’s a dream come true, being able to play on the best offensive line in the NFL,” Slauson said. “I couldn’t be more pleased right now.”
Slauson won the competition against Ducasse, who was learning a new position after playing mostly offensive tackle at the University of Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, Slauson is in his second season after being a sixth-round pick last year, so he has familiarity with the system and was coached by Jets offensive line coach Bill Callahan at Nebraska.
“Any time you change positions and you’re stepping up and it’s a brand-new system, Vlad couldn’t make that kind of ground up,” Ryan said. “Matt had been around here all last year. … He earned the job.”
The left guard spot was vacated in April when the Jets released incumbent Alan Faneca, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection who later signed with Arizona. Slauson knows Faneca’s name will be brought up anytime a defender gets by him.
“It’s my job to not miss a block, so hopefully we won’t be hearing a lot about him,” Slauson said.
Still, the Jets’ offensive line was considered one of the team’s strengths with Faneca, center Nick Mangold, tackles D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Damien Woody, and right guard Brandon Moore. The Ravens will likely try to target him Monday night, and Slauson knows it.
“They consider me the weak point now on the line,” Slauson said. “It’s my job to not just win the starting job, it’s to play at the same level as Nick and D’Brickashaw and Brandon and Woody and all those guys. I’ve just got to study, prepare and get it done.”
Meanwhile, Ducasse will watch from the sideline after many believed he would be the hands-down winner when he was drafted.
“I don’t have any reaction to it,” Ducasse said. “Obviously, he knows the offense a lot better. He’s more comfortable than I am with everything.”
Ducasse learned how to play football in high school after moving to Connecticut from Haiti when he was 14. He was a quick study, started for three years at left tackle for UMass and will be patient about getting his shot in the NFL.
“All I’ve got to do is keep working hard,” Ducasse said. “That’s all I can say right now. It’s never over. It’s a long season. I’ve just got to keep working hard, you never know.”