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New York Jets Make Last-Minute Right Tackle Switch

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Aug 15, 2012; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets tackle Austin Howard (77) walks back to the locker room following practice at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE
Aug 15, 2012; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets tackle Austin Howard (77) walks back to the locker room following practice at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE

The Buffalo Bills are set to take on the New York Jets in Week 1 of the 2012 regular season in just 17 days. When they do, it's looking like the Jets will have a new starting right tackle, as Rex Ryan has benched Wayne Hunter in favor of Austin Howard, per ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini.

Why is this relevant, aside from the fact that the Jets are Buffalo's next meaningful opponent? Simple: Howard, who hasn't appeared in an NFL game since 2010 and only has one start to his name, will be tasked with handling Mario Williams on September 9.

The massive 6'7", 333-pound Howard is a third-year player out of Northern Iowa, but has only been playing tackle since the 2008 season, his junior year there. (In fact, he was the team's starting tight end in 2007, when reserve Bills guard Chad Rinehart was a senior.) He replaces Hunter, the much-maligned right tackle who struggled mightily in 2011 and seemed to regress this pre-season.

17 days from now, Howard - who has been active for four games in three seasons - will face off against Williams, he of 53.5 career sacks and the richest contract for a defender in NFL history. Needless to say, this is a matchup that the Bills need to exploit.