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REX: Feeling Great About RBs Greene, Powell

Posted Aug 3, 2012

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's midday news conference following the Jets' Thursday morning training camp practice at SUNY Cortland:

All right first off, obviously I apologize for being late. As far as you guys know I was talking to Mr. Johnson. That’s actually not true [laughing] and I really do apologize. I was sitting in my room and I was just sitting back and I was like, "OK, it feels like I’m missing something," and I went screaming out, tried to bring my phone with me and all that jazz and I really am sorry about that [laughing]. I should have stuck with the Woody Johnson story, it would have flown better but when you don’t tell the truth, you get in trouble sometimes.

Today I will say this about our practice, it was great, and the competition. I told the whole team yesterday that the offense was going to win the black jerseys today. So I knew we would get the best out of both sides. Did they win it? Yeah, they earned it because I already said it, so I was like, “Shoot, they’re definitely going to wear them.” I loved what Sanchez did. Sanchez was going up to Bart [Scott] and different players saying, “What size is that jersey? Yeah, that’ll fit,” all that kind of stuff, so those black jerseys really have been good. It’s brought out some fun competition, and I predicted there would be three fights and there were only two fights so I was wrong on that also.

Really, it was great to see and in those short-yardage periods and goal-line, there’s only one way to practice them and that’s to go full speed and it has to be live. I saw some big hits out there and I saw some great runs, too. I’ll tell you what, I’m really happy with the way Shonn Greene and [Bilal] Powell in particular are running the football. You know Joe [McKnight] has had his moments as well, so has [Terrance] Ganaway, but it seems like they do a couple runs every day where you’re like, I feel great about Shonn, like I always do, but Powell has really been impressive, and he’s done a great job picking up the blitz as well. If you look at his background in college, it took him a couple of years to get going, then he had a monster year. Hopefully he is ready to have that kind of season for us this year.

Obviously, Tim [Tebow], this was his best day of camp, and that’s because we got to do a little live football where he is going to stand out. You hear Tony [Sparano] talk about it all the time, saying, “Run through the smoke,” and he runs through that smoke, and you have this 250-pound guy barreling down at you. So we saw a little bit of what he can do today, what he brings to the table in the short-yardage and goal-line situations. Then when we get back to doing more Wildcat things, I think we’ll all be excited that Tim’s here.

On Sanchez saying he is OK with driving the team down the field to within the five yard-line and letting Tebow take over…

I think it shows that, number one, he’s all in and he just wants to win. It’s not about him, not about me, not about this guy, that guy, it’s about us, and I think he understand that as well as anybody. He’s been absolutely terrific. He says that now because we haven’t played a game [joking], but no, it’s the truth. I think that’s that team mindset that we’re trying to establish.

On if they will use Tebow near the goal line during the season…

I can see us doing some of that, for the simple fact that I know how difficult it is to stop. We’re going to do whatever we can to score, obviously. Now if that means putting Tim in or leaving Mark in, we were efficient last year in the red zone, we were one of the top red zone teams in the league last year, so I feel really good about what we accomplished last year in the red zone. Then on top of that, adding a guy like Tim can only help us.

On if it was his first time to see this aspect of Tebow…

We’ve had some other drills that we’ve done with Tim, just not that much, obviously. Clearly we knew when we were getting Tim what he would bring to the table. Everybody talks about it, somebody, I don’t know where it came from, said we have to go for two every time this year. That might make sense. Now we’re not going to, I can tell you that right now, but I can understand where the guy is coming from, whoever came up with that, because here’s a guy where in 11-on-11 football is a 250-pound man who’s running downhill at you, or throwing. That’s the other thing. It’s not just that he can run, but he can throw too.

On if he’s ever had a quarterback in training camp whom he allowed the defense to hit…

That’s a first, no doubt that’s a first. But you have to. When he’s inside the 5 you have to because you know that’s a weapon. I knew Tony had a couple of plays up with that, and it’s not like you can have a live goal-line scrimmage and, oh, by the way, the quarterback is running for a touchdown and nobody lays a glove on him. It’s kind of what it looked like. Again, that’s who he is, and we understood that.

On if he would like to see if Tebow could escape a tackle…

Well, right now, we know what that’s going to look like. When we play another team, then you’ll see that. We think we already know what we have. The thing that I like, too, is that I’m encouraged by Mark. The way Mark is taking off, breaking out of the coverage, guys are covered and he’s looking to run. Because let’s not forget, Mark’s a heck of an athlete as well. The only difference is, Mark’s going to slide. Tim’s going to lower his shoulder and run the safety over or whatever. I mean, that’s their style but we will get Mark to slide. We know that from top-down, from Joe Girardi on down, he will slide.

On the direct snap with Tebow and McKnight…

Actually, he faked the ball to Joe. It’s called a speed sweep, where he can actually give the ball to Joe on the around. And that’s another thing, you want to bring that guy in, a speed guy, because a lot of times you won’t block the end, and if that’s the case, he’s got to outrun that guy. But it’s a legitimate play, it’s hard to stop, and that’s going to give you a weapon. When Miami was doing that, they were doing it with Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown, so I’ve seen it before, but it’s difficult to stop.

On ESPN’s cameras being here all week, and if he feels like it is an interruption…

We did "Hard Knocks" and they lived with you in meetings and everything else. Our practices are open to the public. This is what it is. We’re putting our base offense in, base defensive looks and stuff like that, and it’s no different than any other team in the league.

On if he had a team meeting Wednesday…

Good, yeah, we did have a team meeting. I like the way you did that. “Look, we know you had a team meeting, so tell us how it went.” [laughter] It went well. We had a terrible joke at the end of it. It was great, it went over super. But there were some issues I wanted to address and stay on top of certain things. If I see something, then that’s exactly what I’ll do. I always like to send guys off, after you're as serious as you can be with the message you’re delivering, but I always like to leave those guys, as they go to their offensive meetings or their defensive meetings, with a little laughter as well. That’s why I put a horrible joke in there.

On if he had an upset tone in the meeting…

No, if I see an issue, I’m going to stay on top of it. It might not be the issue that you guys think it is, but if I see something, I’m going to address it immediately. We’re going to be out in front of things, not behind things.

On if the team accepted his message…

Yeah, I think the whole team, I do it in a team deal, whatever it is on that thing, that was one of the things we talked about, because sometimes, I’ll give you an interesting thing — I come out and say I’m the best defensive coach in football. I believe it is true, not just based on my talents, but on the talents of the guys I coach and the guys that coach with me. How was that recorded, and it’s not anybody’s one way, everybody will cut it off — “Ryan said he’s the best” — so I like to look like the biggest whatever. With that, I am some of that. You'd better believe in yourself.

But my message was also, hey it’s about the guys I coach, and the guys I coach with, and sometimes that gets lost in translation and things like that. I think sometimes we’ll make a statement and we’re thinking about us, and we don’t understand how it can affect the team, and I’m as guilty as anybody on that.

On Antonio Cromartie’s comments about the receiving corps…

No, I think everybody laughed about it except Chaz [Schilens]. I mean, that’s the truth and probably should have been like that. Chaz should know that Cromartie is not the No. 2 receiver. How many balls has Cromartie caught? How many routes has he run? Now, is he an unbelievable athlete? Yes, and you know what? I’m just shocked he didn’t say he was going to be the best receiver. But really, I just took that time to say, hey look, we need to always be mindful of what’s best for the team. That was the message and there are also others.

On having players being aware of what they say…

I’m not putting muzzles on them. I’m just saying that sometimes I want it to be out there that look, here’s a fact, I say something and they put a period after it. OK, it doesn’t send the whole message. It happened over and over last year and then it snowballs. Whether people want to paint the Jets as this rogue team or whatever out there, then that’s fine. You know, we want to win. We’re as competitive as any other team in this league. We want to win and that’s really our No. 1 thing. Now, do we want to have fun? Absolutely. Do I want our guys to be able to be ourselves? I do. But also, understand that maybe there’s some deals that can hurt our football team instead of help it.

On what "getting through the smoke" means…

Basically, if you get through the smoke there’s a lot of air back there and you have to get through that smoke and sometimes those running backs — boom — push on through and eventually something pops. You know, you have to believe it. It is going to be a little smoky in there but you keep running through it and you’ll find some daylight.

On Santonio Holmes’ injury…

I’m not real sure. I haven’t talked to John [Mellody] or anything. I know I think we had a few more guys practice today, which was positive, but we’ll see. Again, I don’t think it’s a serious thing. We have some nagging deals and some little minor-type injuries and we're lucky and fortunate that we don’t have the big ones right now, which is good. It is frustrating, especially when it hits 10 of your receivers or whatever it was. Do I expect them back? I certainly hope so.

On if Saturday's Green & White scrimmage is on the Cortland Stadium turf instead of the grass practice fields to accommodate a larger crowd…

No, not at all. I hope there is a huge crowd, I really do. The turf is a brand new turf and it’s in great condition. I was like, we might as well do it here. The surface is great no matter what the weather. We’ve already got things set up in place here. Will it be more accommodating to the fans? It absolutely will be, but if there was a greater chance of injury on this turf as compared to the grass, then we would be on the grass. When I talked to everybody, it seems like this turf, and you guys have been down there, is great. It’s brand-new, it’s in great condition and it’s soft. The field is in great shape.

On erring on the side of caution when it comes to injuries…

I guess that would be a true statement. You have to know when a veteran player has some concerns. Then that’s when I’ll err on the side of caution. Darrelle Revis wants to go, but he already told us about something, so we have to protect the competitor from himself sometimes. If it’s Brandon Moore, sometimes Brandon won’t say anything like last year and it’s like all you had to do was say something and he gave one of those types of responses and it’s like, oh, OK, but that’s what it’s all about.

We’re not playing a game for several days but we still have to get our work in so there’s kind of a fine line. We had a rookie who said, “Coach, I’ll come back and go through.” "Is that what the trainers recommended you do?" “No.” "Listen to the trainer." That’s who I will always listen to, John Mellody

On if Holmes will play in the scrimmage…

You know, I guess I could say yes because I don’t really know the extent of the injury.

On the running backs…

I think each guy kind of brings a different dynamic to the backfield but I know it’s been reported, I think it’s going to be an area of strength starting with, obviously, Shonn Greene who’s already proven in this league that he can be more than productive as a running back. I like where he’s come. I think he’s catching the ball better, I think he’s doing a better job in pass protection than he’s done in the past. And clearly he looks like he’s in shape ready to run the ball right from the get-go.

When you look at Joe McKnight, the first thing you notice is his playmaking skills. Obviously, a dynamic speed back. I think he’s stronger than he’s been in the past. Did a great job on a blitz pickup today, really smashed a guy coming in. Now, it was Isaiah Trufant, but he did blast him. Might be a little different if it was Bart Scott rearing in there. But he’s doing a better job in the protection. I like the way those guys are competing.

Obviously with Bilal, he just looks like a different guy. He struggled last year with injuries and all that. When he did play, he was impressive because he had no reps and he still picked up, had no mental mistakes in the game. That tells you he’s on top of it. He’s a smart young man. But I think we’re seeing that physical skill set that Anthony Lynn and Mike Tannenbaum really liked when he came out of college. You’re starting to see that.

With Ganaway, here’s a young man that fills in at fullback and tailback and all that. I like the fact that he’s a big back, squares his shoulders to the line of scrimmage and can run and he can catch the ball. Now, he’s had a couple of drops that have been disappointing, but I like our backs. The Griffin kid [John Griffin] has shown some flashes, especially early in the minicamp, but he’s unfortunately down with what I believe is a hamstring.

On if he would consider adding Cedric Benson…

Well, I guess you’d always consider something that we feel is in the best interest of our team. I don’t believe there’s any truth to that.

On Hayden Smith

I think he’s way ahead of where I thought he’d be, for sure. There’s no doubt about that. He’s a tough guy and he’ll battle. Right now he’s trying to learn, number one, putting on his equipment, then everything else will fall into place, his steps and all that. I know one thing, he’s a willing guy and he can catch the football and he’s got a smile on his face every day and he takes to coaching and listens to Dev [TEs coach Mike Devlin] all the time. He’s a prideful guy. And that’s why I wouldn’t want to bet against him. I think he’s got a chance. And let me tell you, if he’s first team, as soon as we go to a scrum, he’s going to be right in there.

On how the scrimmage will be set up…

I haven’t really decided one way or the other yet.

On who the blocking tight end will be…

Well, I think Dustin Keller is obviously our starting tight end. Jeff Cumberland plays a lot at the tight end position and [Josh] Baker’s played some there. We’re rotating a lot of different guys.

On if he has a specific run-blocking tight end on the roster…

If we just want to run-block somebody, we’ll just put a tackle in there.

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