Brian Winters pronounced himself fully healed from the unspeakable pain that severely limited his play last season. The Jets right guard was hampered by a debilitating abdominal tear that ultimately required surgery.
“It was horrendous,” Winters said Monday on the first day of the team’s off-season workouts. “I wouldn’t give that pain to my worst enemy. It was something that was very tough and hurtful from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed. Not only when I was doing stuff. Just walking in general was painful.”
Winters suffered the injury when he felt a pop blocking on an outside zone run late in the first half of the Jets’ Week 2 loss in Oakland. He gutted it out for 11 more games before the team placed him on season-ending Injured Reserve in December.
“I wasn’t able to do anything,” Winters said. “The year before, I was healthy and I felt great. That’s who I am. That’s how I play. I wasn’t able to do any of that. Going into a game, I felt like I was walking on eggshells, because I didn’t want to do anything to take me out of the game. So, I was playing very conservative. I wasn’t able to be myself. I wasn’t able to be the type of player that I am. It was tough. It was a tough year. It was tough mentally… Anyone can judge on last year, but this is a whole new year.”
Winters, who signed a four-year deal before the 2017 season, expects “to be a dominant offensive lineman in the league” now that he’s healthy. The six-year veteran said he’s been medically cleared to participate in all offseason work without restrictions.
“I was on the right track the year before, and then this injury happened unfortunately,” Winter said. “So, a little setback. But I want to go out and be a force.”
Winters, who will be working with a new offensive line coach (Rick Dennison) and center (Spencer Long) this season, believes the offensive line will improve from last year’s struggles (47 sacks allowed and 20th in rushing offense).
“If you put an offensive guard out there with one leg and try to do what he’s supposed to do, it’s kind of tough,” Winters said. “I understand what… all the fans saw. I get that. But us as a group and us as a team, we’re excited. We got new pieces…. It’s going to be fun.”
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