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REX: A Challenge We’re Excited to Be Facing

Posted Dec 13, 2012

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's morning news conference before the Jets' Thursday afternoon practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center:

I’d like to start really today by talking about some guys we really don’t talk a whole lot about. Like Konrad [Reuland] and [Jeff] Cumberland, two young tight ends. I think they really had to step it up obviously, with the injury to [Dustin] Keller. But these two guys are really improving. [TEs coach] Mike Devlin’s doing a great job coaching these guys but their blocking’s really improved. And really, with Cumberland more, the in-line blocking, not bad for a college receiver but he’s doing a tremendous job for us.

And then Konrad’s doing the jack-of-all-trades, the garbage man or whatever you want to call him, does the jobs nobody else wants. He’s part fullback, tight end, all these type of roles. It’s challenging mentally. Now the kid’s from Stanford so it’s probably not too challenging, but he’s doing a great job. I see his blocking improving and things like that. They’re a couple of guys we really don’t talk a whole lot about but they’re doing a tremendous job for us.

As far as who we’re up against this week in Tennessee, it’s a young, very aggressive, attacking-style football team. They have a lot of young talented playmakers on both sides of the ball. I look on their defense I look at these two guys, in particular, these two linebackers they have. You have [Akeem] Ayers who obviously is having a tremendous season. Rushes the passer well, blitzes, can put his hand in the dirt and rush the passer, but he’s all over the place, very active guy from UCLA. I think he has 85 tackles and eight or nine passes defensed. He can do it all. Then this young guy, I think is going to be a good player for them, the kid from Carolina, Zach Brown I believe is his name. Zach can really run. He can really run, he’s all over the place. And they’re active on the outside obviously with [Kamerion] Wimbley and with [Derrick] Morgan, the former first-round pick from Georgia Tech. So they have two really good guys there. They attack you with penetrating style of tackles. So it’s definitely going to be a challenge for us up front.

And then offensively, the [Jake] Locker kid is a tremendous athlete. I mean, he can really run. He’s probably scrambling more than any quarterback we’ve seen maybe all season. He’s getting out and he’ll take off with his 4.5 speed, 230-pound guy, he’s got a strong arm and really I think this is kind of what the NFL is looking like for the next generation of quarterbacks, those guys that can run, have those big arms, and big guys, kind of like the Cam Newtons and Lockers. It seems to be a trend in the NFL. Obviously a very talented guy. The wideouts are Kenny Britt, local product and all that stuff, and [Kendall] Wright, a couple of first-round picks there, so they’re very talented. And oh, by the way, you have Chris Johnson. So obviously, it’s going to be a big challenge to us but it’s one we’re excited to be facing.

With that I’m going to give you the injury update here. All of these players will not practice today: Clyde Gates, concussion. He is doing better but he won’t practice today. Dustin Keller with his ankle. Again, we’ll see how that progresses during the week. He is getting better, though. Stephen Hill, knee, Aaron Berry, hamstring. It seems like we can’t keep this kid healthy. And then [Bilal] Powell has a shoulder and a toe. I think he might have a fracture on a toe but we’re going to keep him out of practice, I think he’ll be all right, though.

Guys that are limited today: Sione Po’uha with a low back, [Damon] Harrison with an ankle, Braylon Edwards, hamstring, and Bryan Thomas, chest, will be limited today. And then the rest of these guys will be full: Kenrick Ellis, knee, Mark Sanchez, low back, Matt Slauson, knee, Jeff Cumberland, wrist, Calvin Pace, shoulder, Nick Mangold, shoulder, Bart Scott, toe, Brandon Moore, hip, LaRon Landry, heel, Joe McKnight, ankle, and Tim Tebow, ribs.

On Edwards’ health…

Well Braylon passed the physical. He’s been cleared to practice. I’m optimistic he’ll be ready to play on Monday. But again, I’m going to lean on our trainers and our doctors to make sure. I will say this about Braylon, he is extremely happy to be here. I think you guys will see that in the locker room. He’s hugging guys, he’s going crazy. I was happy to see him, despite the obvious comment [laughter]. See, with the comment, though, I look at it this way. Mike [Tannenbaum] and I are doing this — “Oh, he’s talking to you,” “No, no, he’s talking about you,” so we’re both OK with it. But it is funny because there are times when obviously you’ll make a comment, not that I have ever done this [joking], that you’re like, "Oh, gosh, I never wanted to say that," or "That came out wrong," or whatever. But again, I’m happy to have Braylon back.

On why Edwards tweeted what he did recently…

I have no idea. Why do you say it was me? I’m saying it wasn’t. You’re lumping me into this [joking].

On Edwards’ tweets…

Well, I don’t know, I have no idea. But we brought him back, so I don’t know.

On how long it will take Edwards to learn the playbook…

He’s a guy that’s played in the league a long time. Braylon’s smart, he’s a smart guy, so hopefully he’ll pick it up fast. I know Sanjay [WRs coach Sanjay Lal]'s spending a lot of time with him and things. So we’ll see. All I want is the exact type of game we had the last time we picked him up which was I think he scored a touchdown and set up two others. If he can do that, we’ll be OK. But again, it was funny, but when we did make that trade, it was like "OK, how much?" There were questions about how much we can really play the guy and he played a ton for us that game. But we’ll see how it goes.

On if Edwards having a connection with Sanchez helps…

Yeah, I think obviously he’s familiar with him. I think that’s good that the quarterback is familiar with the receiver. The receiver, all they have to do is run the route and catch the ball, so I don’t think it matters who’s throwing it. For a quarterback there’s a comfort level and quite honestly, with the receivers there’s connections with the quarterback like receivers, will want a ball in certain areas. And if I’m running a slant there, maybe a receiver that wants the ball in front of them maybe wants it higher, there are some that want it lower, all those types of different things. I think obviously, he has that, spending two years here, he should have that kind of connection or rapport with the quarterback.

On if he discussed Edwards’ comments with Tannenbaum before signing him…

Well, there are a lot of comments that get fired at me, so I’m OK with them. He knows what I’ve always thought about Braylon. I’ve always been a big fan of Braylon’s because I like the way he plays. I think that comment, please. I mean, I just want the player and I know that when he’s in our building and things, he’s had some success here. He took us into the playoffs both years. And again, I just like Braylon as a player and I like him as a person. There isn’t one guy in that locker room that’s always perfect with a comment here or there. And there are things privately where I’ve been called a lot worse from players [laughter].

On other teams probably not even considering signing a player who has made comments his former organization…

Well, again, I just worry about one team, not every other team.

On why they didn’t sign Edwards before the season began…

Each time there are different circumstances. But even when he left here, you guys know I stand by my comments about him. I always liked Braylon as a player. But sometimes there are all kinds of guys that you wish you had or whatever, but maybe you, for whatever reason, at that time can’t bring him in.

On the Seahawks' medical evaluation of Edwards…

I really didn’t, but obviously we felt different.

On what makes him think Edwards can contribute…

I think he can. That’s why we brought him in. Obviously, we feel good about it, the kind of player he is. As mentioned before, he does have some chemistry with the quarterback. He’s familiar with him. The system may be different, but I think he’s a smart guy, I think he learns quickly, I think he’ll pick it up quickly. We’ll see how much he can help us.

On his comments about Tebow on Monday…

I think with any player, we’re all disappointed with what our record is. We’ve won six games. We’re 6-7. I think all of us are disappointed in that. As far as his particular role, the Wildcat and all of those type of things, we haven’t run them that much. Obviously, with the two cracked ribs, that’s something that has to be disappointing because you’re not going to do that. That’s what I feel. I think anybody, as a competitor, you want to win a ton of games. You want to win all of your games and we’re 6-7. I think that’s just disappointing for all of us.

Again, with his role, having the rib, these last few weeks obviously, his role has been diminished some. I don’t think he’s happy about that, but again, I've said I think he’s happy to be a Jet, because I’ve seen him around his teammates, I think he likes his teammates, I think he likes the people around the building and the way we take care of our players. You’ll have to ask him, but I’m pretty sure he’s happy with that.

On Powell’s toe injury…

I think he’ll be OK with that. I’m no trainer or doctor, but I feel he’ll have a chance to go. That’s what’s been explained to me.

On if Tebow will be the personal protector due to his injury…

I don’t really see him in that role. As far as the Wildcat, obviously with the ribs the way they are, that’s probably a role, hopefully, once we get the OK with his ribs, maybe we can expand that. That’s probably not necessarily going to be a big factor in our game plan.

On if Tebow will be active on Monday…

Oh yeah, I think he’s improving, I just don’t think improvement to where you’re going to run the power, counters and all that other stuff, I’m not sure about that.

On what Tebow can do…

He can be the backup quarterback and run some base things. Again there’s always a chance you can put him in that role [running the Wildcat].

On using Tebow as the backup quarterback instead of McElroy…

I feel better about Tim in that role. That’s what I’ll always do, and you're tired of me saying it but I feel he gives us the best opportunity, that’s why I’ve said all along that he’s our No. 2 quarterback. That’s how I feel.

On if McElroy will be active on Sunday…

That’s a possibility, but each week is different. You look at your roster, where you’re at. There could be some injuries. Could this guy play? This guy is active. Maybe you need insurance at a different position. I’m not sure, but I think it’s something I’ll consider.

On if Tebow has more injuries than the two fractures…

No.

On if Tebow has damaged cartilage in his ribs…

No, and the thing is, he’s been cleared to play all that time. I’m more comfortable with him playing now than I was a few weeks ago. I feel better about him playing. The way he’s worked out on the practice field, we’ve increased his reps. The day before the game, he was throwing it pretty good.

On if he has ever held out a player who is cleared to play by the trainers…

Yes, a guy can be cleared to play, but if "Hey, he’s cleared to play, but he has two broken ribs" or something else, I want to make sure the player is ready to go when he’s ready to protect himself and be productive.

On if he thinks Tebow would not be productive if he played with his injury…

No, I think he can be productive. I do. I just think the Wildcat, when basically you’re a running back back there a lot of times, sometimes I don’t think I want him running as much, obviously as he was earlier in the season. I think that was it, but I feel OK with him playing quarterback. Last week, our quarterback got hit one time. Unfortunately, it was a strip sack [laughs], but if we can protect him that well, we should be fine.

On if they can run the Wildcat with Tebow being hurt…

Can we run some Wildcat plays? Sure, absolutely.

On if he is more comfortable with Tebow running the traditional offense than the Wildcat…

Yes, I think if he was completely healthy and didn’t have the ribs, then you would want to combine that. That’s what is really tough to defend. Again, he’s probably going to sit back and say, “I’m fine, I can run it.” So we’ll see.

On having Tebow run the traditional offense combined with the Wildcat…

The Wildcat, the unique part of that, OK, we’re going to run the Wildcat. No, I’m just kidding, but just to get out of this conversation [laughter], again, I prefer that he be able to do both.

On deciding Tebow should be the backup quarterback instead of McElroy…

Again, there are a lot of things that go into the decision. Obviously, Tim’s had many more reps and I’m just more comfortable with Tim. I like Greg. I think Greg has improved a ton since his rookie year. I've always liked him, but I felt his arm strength had to improve to play at this level and I think he’s done that. I think his arm is getting better. I’m excited about Greg. I am. The fact that I have Tim over him doesn’t mean that I don’t like Greg as an option at quarterback. I like Greg.

On how much he’ll pay attention to the Cincinnati and Pittsburgh games…

I’ll watch, but I don’t think you can get emotionally invested in it because you have to go out and do your job or it makes no difference. That’s where we have to be. Obviously, we’ll watch. I’m pulling for Dallas like crazy, but that’s it. You can be watching it and you can be cheering for whoever, but at the end of the day you have to take care of your business. That’s where our energy needs to be focused.

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