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REX: Excellent Competition Going On at Safety

Posted Jun 11, 2013

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's news conference before Tuesday's midday full-squad minicamp practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center:

First day of mandatory camp, obviously excited about that. It’s really no different than our OTA’s because we’re a team that’s had 100 percent participation, so it’s very similar to what we’ve been doing these last several days. But again, it’s always a good thing. You realize you’re getting closer and closer now, so I’m looking forward to that.

Today we put in, I think, five different coverages with moving parts, so that ought to be interesting today. Just trying to challenge our defense mentally, throwing a lot of new things at them, see what we can handle. We’re doing a lot of shifts and motions on offense, I wanted to challenge the defense that way so we’ll see how they respond. Sometimes in a game you’ll make adjustments in a firestorm. Maybe it’s one or two defenses. Well, today it’s five or six. But, we put it in there and they’re feeling pretty good about themselves. We’ll see what happens today.

I have a funny feeling there’s going to be more questions about former players than there are current players, but with that I’ll answer your questions.

On Tim Tebow…

Well, again, it’s not a surprise to me that Tim would be picked up. Obviously, as I’ve said before, a tremendous young man, very competitive. I’m happy for him and look forward to competing against him.

On his reaction to Tebow going to the Patriots…

To the Patriots? Well again, I’m happy for him. You look throughout our league now, you’ve got Tim with New England, you’ve got Dustin Keller in Miami, you’ve got Mike Pettine and company in Buffalo. There’s a lot of my former guys throughout the league. You’ve got Shonn Greene in Tennessee that we’re going to go up against. But with that, I always wish those guys the best unless they play against us, obviously.

On if Tebow succeeding in New England would reflect poorly on him…

No, again. I’m not worried about anything really. Again, like I said, I’m happy for the young man to get another opportunity in the league. We’ve already mentioned that it didn’t work out here. Obviously, Tim had more success in Denver than he did here, so it is what it is.

On if he is curious about how New England will use Tebow…

Not really, no. If they want to replace [Tom] Brady with him, that’s fine [joking].

On if he hopes the Jets quarterbacks will separate themselves at minicamp…

Again, we don’t have to make a decision right now, and we won’t. I think it’ll be clear when that time comes and you usually probably play a game or so and we’ll see what happens when you get into live competition. I think it’s probably the best way to judge a guy anyway.

On if Stephen Hill will practice today…

Yeah, I believe he will be. I expect him to. I don’t know how much, but we have enough guys over there so I don’t know how many plays that will be.

On which players will not participate…

[Santonio] Holmes we know won’t be there. Gosh, injury report. There are guys limited. [Jeremy] Kerley will be out there. Clyde Gates, I think, is going to be out, he had a hamstring. If he does do some, it’ll be very limited, I believe. But I think he’ll probably be out. And there’ll be, I call [Ryan Spadola] “Spicolli,” I think he’ll be out, he did a little something with a hamstring, the kid from Lehigh. He’s been doing decent, too, he’s catching the football and things. There’ll be a few guys out, there’ll be a few guys limited. [Antonio] Garay will be limited, Garrett McIntyre will be limited. But for the most part, guys will be out there competing.

On what he is hoping to see with Kellen Winslow and Mike Sims-Walker…

I hope both of them are like they used to be, because that’d be good. They’ll be trying out for a few days and [the team will see if they'll be] signing here. But we’ll see. It is a good opportunity to evaluate some guys. Obviously Kellen Winslow was a tremendous player in this league for a long time. One of the premier receiving tight ends in the game. So we’ll see how he responds. Obviously it’s going to be recovery more than anything else, how healthy he is. Because clearly the skillset that he has, the young man was a tremendous player.

On having to game-plan around playing against Tebow…

Well, I think now, I think the whole league is game-planning for running quarterbacks, if you will. So I think that’s something that we’ve been doing, I think, during the course of the year, Geno Smith could be that guy that can do it. I think a lot of teams, many teams are having those type of quarterbacks now. You look at EJ Manuel that Buffalo picked up. Obviously [Colin] Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, RG3 [Robert Griffin III], those are the guys that jump to the top of that list.

So I don’t think anything specifically you’re going to do with Tim that the league really isn’t preparing for now, and I think that’s changed. I don’t think last year, going into the season, Kaepernick wasn’t really a known commodity, I think. Russell Wilson certainly wasn’t as a rookie quarterback. RG3, I don’t think people really knew what to expect. But clearly now it seems like that’s a trend in this league and you have to be ready for it.

On having to prepare to face Tebow not only as a running quarterback…

We’ll be ready because we’re prepared to face [Rob] Gronkowski and [Aaron] Hernandez so I think we’ll be prepared to play Russ Francis if he comes back to play tight end.

On his advice to Coach Belichick on handling Tebow…

Oh, please. He’s not going to listen to me, and he shouldn’t. It is do what he does and that makes sense.

On Tebow potentially transitioning to tight end…

Again, all these questions are probably better served asked of New England and Belichick. I’m sure you’ll get the answer from him [laughter].

On if he is serious about getting an answer from Coach Belichick…

That’s as good an answer as you’re going to get from me [laughter.]

On judging the Jets' running game without practicing in pads…

I think it’s pretty much impossible without pads on because you want to stay away from those types of collisions. Until you really put the pads on, what you’re going to run on the perimeter basically is all you can do, maybe some draws and stuff like that. I think until you get the pads on, you get more of a true appreciation for what your running game can be.

On if it’s frustrating as a coach to not have any spring practices with pads…

No, I think as long as it’s a level playing field it’s really not a frustrating thing. Everyone’s dealing with the same rules. I’m just happy we’ve had 100 percent participation. I think that probably puts us ahead of things. I’m extremely happy where we are right now.

On if anyone is excused or if every player is in for camp…

Everybody is here. We have one issue that will come up the last day. A young man had a personal issue, a death in the family, so those things, obviously, something like that could change things.

On if it is advantageous to try out players on consecutive days to gauge where they are healthwise…

I think so. I think you get more of a true idea of where they are. Part of it is, a lot of times in this league the skillset isn’t what gets you out of the league, it’s the fact that it’s hard to recover. I’ve been around a lot of great veteran players, really, that’s sometimes a sign that it’s time to retire or move on. You just can’t get ready. We’ll see. Hopefully, these young men will be fine and ready to go.

On if they might have noticed the severity of David Garrard’s injury if he tried out on consecutive days…

Yes, maybe so. I’m not sure.

On the competition at safety…

I think you’re exactly right. That’s an excellent competition going on right now with Antonio Allen, with Jaiquawn Jarrett, with [Josh] Bush and guys competing. There is this young man, [Bret] Lockett, from UCLA, who’s doing some nice things. Donnie Fletcher. There’s some good competition at that safety position, certainly. The thing that I like doing is firing a bunch of new stuff at them. We’ll see how they adjust because that’s what happens in a game. Over the course of a game, something’s not working, you have to make a change in a firestorm as we put it.

On Jarrett…

So far, he’s been doing a tremendous job coming in, learning a brand new system. The thing that we know he can do is that he was a hitter. When you put the pads on, I would anticipate this guy going like this [shoots his arm out], because certainly that’s what he did at Temple. He put some shots on that were impressive to say the least. When you’re looking at Mo [Wilkerson] and him, it’s like, “Wow, these two guys can really play.” So we’ll see what happens, but I’ve been pleased with him.

On if the coaching staff worked on Tebow’s footwork last season…

I think without question, and you have to give the young man credit, he put in tons of work, and our coaching staff put in tons of work trying to improve him from a technical standpoint. Like we’ve said before, this is a tremendous worker, wants to get better, and certainly there are some things that he can get better at. But really with everybody, any young player, there’s things you get better at. It wasn’t overlooked. We spent a lot of time trying to develop him and to his credit as a quarterback, he really spent a lot of time trying to get better.

On the expectations for the team being different than they were a couple years ago…

It’s the same job it’s always been with one goal. Expectations may be that the general public out there maybe has certain expectations, I can’t speak for them. You know what, the expectations are there, but I certainly understand our expectations. We know that we have to, as we say, outwork you, I’ll prepare everybody and that’s going to give us an opportunity, I think, to be successful. Obviously, we’re no different than 31 other teams in this league. There’s one ultimate goal and certainly we’ll be striving for that goal.

On the tight end position…

With Jeff Cumberland, obviously, he’s the starter right now. If we were going to have a game tomorrow, he would be our starter. Then you have Konrad [Reuland] and Hayden [Smith], guys with experience. Then you have "the BC kid" [Chris Pantale] and "the coach," [Mike] Shanahan, who are working their way out there. And we’ll see about Winslow. I’m excited about seeing Kellen.

On not having a player at tight end who’s been a steady NFL starter…

I think with any position, we’ll see. I know we work extremely hard up top in the pro personnel department trying to see if there’s somebody out there who can potentially help our football team. We’re open for anything, whether it be a tight end, a receiver, a tackle, whoever, a defensive tackle, we’ll certainly look at all possibilities. But again, Jeff Cumberland, I think, is a big, fast guy that I think has improved over the years. His blocking, I think, has really improved. I’ll be excited to see how he progresses.

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