- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
After sitting out the first few days of training camp with knee soreness, incumbent Willie Colon grabbed the starting job, placed it in a Kung Fu grip and refused to let go.
On Tuesday, Todd Bowles made it official, naming Colon the opening-day starter. It was the right move. It was the only move, as neither Brian Winters nor Brent Qvale did enough to overtake Colon, 32, who still brings the nasty after all these years.
"He was more aggressive out of the ones that were competing for the position," Bowles said. "He wanted it more. He came out and played like it. And he proved it. He came back to camp in shape. He played like he wanted it more. He was the hungriest. He's shown that he didn't bust as many assignments as the rest of them. He played tougher and he played more physical than the rest of them."
Winters, a third-round pick in 2013, isn't a lock to make the team. He didn't receive a glowing endorsement from Bowles, who said Winters is the backup right guard "right now." Qvale has no regular-season experience, but he has some value because he can play guard and tackle.
Colon, who grew up in the Bronx, brings a Bronx mentality to the offensive line. He's tough, physical and loud. He still can be an effective player as long as he avoids penalties. In 2014, he committed a team-high 14 penalties, plus two declined. The other concern is his health; he's playing on creaky knees.
"When you're in a camp battle, if you don't maximize the opportunity, the next guy will," Colon said. "I never, not one time, felt comfortable. I just didn't. Qvale had a really, really good camp, honestly. Brian was coming along. When you've got those two young dogs nipping at your heels, you've got no time to say, 'Woe is me' or worry about your injuries. I just flat out wanted to be out there with Brick and Nick, Carp and BG" -- a reference to linemates D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, James Carpenter and Breno Giacomini. "I had to show up in a major way."