By Tim Graham
At first, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan dreaded the idea of pass-rusher Mario Williams coming to the AFC East.
Ryan got indigestion when the Buffalo Bills were courting Williams in March.
"Ho, ho, shoot," Ryan said on a conference call today with Bills reporters. "I was, like, 'Please, don't. Please, don't.' "
Then Ryan pondered Williams a little more.
"It was funny because I thought, 'Oh, great. If we can survive the two weeks against him, it would be a positive that he gets to go hit Tom Brady.' So I thought that was a real positive.
"It is exciting to get great players in the division. There's no doubt. Obviously, you wish those players were on your team. But the fact he went to Buffalo was, like, 'Oof. Oh, boy.' He is a tremendous football player."
Williams lines up at left defensive end. The Jets have had serious problems at right tackle, the player who will line up against him.
Wayne Hunter was supposed to be that guy, but an awful preseason destroyed his confidence and the Jets traded him. The Jets moved Austin Howard into that spot. Howard is 6 foot 7 and 333 pounds but has played only four games in his career with one start.
"I can tell you this: Our tackle's probably not sleeping very well this week," Ryan said. "I know I wouldn't be if I had to go against him."
Asked to elaborate on Howard, Ryan laughed -- probably to keep from crying.
"I think the only way you can get a bigger challenge is if it was DeMarcus Ware," Ryan said of the Dallas Cowboys superstar edge rusher.
"It's going to be a huge challenge to anybody. Austin hasn't had a whole lot of game experience, obviously. But we feel good about him. He's a huge man that can bend. He's a guy that's kind of a road-grader in the running game."
Ryan said he would prepare Howard by using former Bills pass-rusher Aaron Maybin and first-round draft pick Quinton Coples on the scout team to act like Williams. Ryan mentioned going so far as to line them up offsides to get Howard used to Williams' speed and strength.