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REX: Hopeful Both Keller and Hill Will Play

Posted Oct 10, 2012

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

First off, some news. We signed Daniel Muir, who’s a defensive lineman. I think when you meet him, you’ll know he’s been a defensive lineman all of his life. He’s 6-1½, 325 pounds. He’s a bigger man, former Colt, former Packer, so he’s a guy that has some experience. We’re excited to add him.

Unfortunately, Josh Mauga, it was a torn pec[toral] and we’ve placed Josh on injured reserve. It’s an unfortunate thing. I believe Josh had a torn pec before on the other side. It’s just one of those things. It’s just unfortunate, obviously.

We’re getting ready to play the Colts. They’re coming off of a huge win, obviously, playing against the Green Bay Packers. It was very impressive to watch. Breaking down their offense, it took probably double the time. They had 100 snaps against Green Bay. A lot of no-huddle, uptempo-type offense. [Andrew] Luck is doing a tremendous job running that system. With [Bruce] Arians, it’s an offense that is very similar to Pittsburgh. Obviously when Bruce was there, Pittsburgh had a lot of success. It’s some similar things. One thing that jumps out at me is the play of Reggie Wayne. Reggie is doing a lot of dirty work, too, kind of like Hines Ward used to do at Pittsburgh. He’s also being targeted about 15 times a game. You can see they clearly want to get the ball in his hands, and rightfully so. He’s having a tremendous year. He’s always been a top receiver in this league. His numbers, actually, indicate that this might be his best year to date. Really doing a great job.

With Luck, he’s not just going to Reggie Wayne. He spreads the ball and seems to have an excellent grasp of the system. He has a plan of where he’s going to go with the football, he seems to be doing a nice job. He’s surprising me a little bit with his escapability. I think with that, obviously, we know he’s a good athlete, just look at the [combine] times and everything else, but he steps in. He can shake guys like Big Ben [Roethlisberger] does a little bit. He can extend plays and that’s something we have to do a great job of, understanding that, and plastering down the field that he may get outside or break contain. We have to do a good job. [Donald] Brown is doing a nice job running with the football.

On defense, it’s those two great pass rushers, obviously Pro Bowl pass rushers in [Robert] Mathis and Dwight [Freeney]. We'd better do something about them or they can make your day miserable, as we know. They’re playing a good, sound defense. They’ve changed to a 3-4 defense, yet carried over a lot of the 4-3 principles that we’re accustomed to seeing with Indianapolis. Like I said, it starts with those two edge pass rushers.

I can tell you about their special teams if you’d like me to, or why don’t we pass [laughter]? We’ll pass.

Injuries, while we’re here I want to make sure I give you the information that has been given to me. The guys that will not practice today: Sione Po’uha with a low back, Kenrick Ellis with a knee, John Conner, hamstring, Nick Mangold, ankle, Clyde Gates, shoulder, LaRon Landry with the heel. That’s basically trying to give him the two days off like we’ve been giving him. Nothing new there. Guys that will be limited in practice: Aaron Berry, ribs, Bart Scott, toe, Bryan Thomas, hamstring, Stephen Hill and Dustin Keller, hamstring, will be limited. All of these other guys will be full. That’s Eric Smith, hip/knee, Antonio Cromartie, shoulder, Nick Bellore, shoulder, Mark Sanchez, low back, Calvin Pace, Achilles, Brandon Moore, hip, Matt Slauson, knee, Austin Howard, back, Jeremy Kerley, finger, and Jeff Cumberland, ribs.

On the injuries…

I would say with Nick, it’s that same ankle. Just one of those things, being an offensive lineman, you get in a pile a little bit. We’re hopeful that he’ll be able to play this week. As far as Kenrick, it doesn’t look good, obviously, for this week, but we’ll see as he progresses. I don’t think it looks that great for him this week, where I’m more confident in Mangold’s return than I am Kenrick’s.

On if Mangold’s injury is a high ankle sprain…

I would imagine it’s just a regular ankle because I never got any information that it was a high ankle sprain.

On if Po‘uha will play on Sunday…

Again, I’m not sure. We’ll see how the week goes on. We’ll see how that happens. Again, with Kenrick, I’m not sure.

On who will play defensive tackle due to injuries…

We’ve got "Snacks." Damon Harrison, I think, is doing a good job. We’ll see with that rotation. [Mike] DeVito can play in there. He’s done that in the past as well.

On Gates' injury…

I don’t think it’s a serious injury, but how soon can he bounce back from it? I’m not sure.

On if Po’uha has seen a specialist for his back…

I guess you have to ask him, but I know one thing, he’s trying to do whatever he can to get back on the field. He’s doing a great job with his treatment and everything else. He’s working like crazy to get back on the field.

On if he is willing to concede the idea that the defense this year may not be top five …

No way. I'm not willing to concede that at all. I think we’ll get better, I really do. I think the commitment on the practice field, in the classroom, gives me that kind of confidence. I’ve got great confidence in the players and the coaches. I’d never concede that at all.

On Slauson’s block on Brian Cushing…

Well, first off, I’ll say it’s an unfortunate thing. Clearly, in this league, it’s all about the players and Brian’s a great player, no questions about it. You hate to see that. Obviously, we’ve experienced our own issues. It’s something that definitely wasn’t intentional. It’s a legal block. We’re a team that doesn’t cut very often. Sometimes we’ll cut on the second level and things. He's an active guy. You try to get him to pad off, things like that. It’s an unfortunate thing.

When you look at it from a player safety standpoint, I think the league has done a great job in protecting the defensive linemen, in particular on the high/lows, like there used to be, where a guy would chop you and then cut you. I think we’ve done a tremendous job of that. With the zone running teams, you can take a look at Houston. They almost cut every single run. It’s a technique that you teach. It’s not dirty, it’s just a technique. That’s almost every single run on the back side that they’ll do that. Like I said, with us, clearly, it was a thing that was unintentional. I feel terrible for Brian and really the league. The league loses when you lose a player like that.

On if there was anything illegal on the play where Ellis got hurt…

No, I think that’s just one of those unfortunate things.

On if Tebow is in the Jets' long-term plans…

Yeah, he’s a guy that, when we traded for Tim, we understand his contract situation. Yeah, without question. We brought him in because we think Tim’s a good football player. With that being said, and this goes for any player, Tim, any player we have, if we assume that they’re going to be with us, we think the guys will be with us throughout the length of the contract. There’s no guarantee there that if, there’s an opportunity to help your football team, if we see fit, whatever’s in the best interest of our team, then I guess no players totally guaranteed that they’ll be there. Clearly, he’s a guy that we thought a lot of, and that’s why we traded for him and still think a lot of him.

On the defensive line errors…

There was very few of them, I think in the second half, they had 57 yards rushing on 22 attempts, that’s more like it. That’s what we expect. The big 50-yard run, that was just a mistake on alignment. And it was an unfortunate thing, obviously, and a kid made a good run. We haven’t had many of those. I think our techniques improving, and we just have to keep going, we have to get better each day. We've got opportunities on the practice field to get better and I think we will.

On if it was one player making an error or the entire line on the 50-yard run…

It was a one-person error on that particular play. But I’ll say this, that one player also had some great plays in the game. Those are things we’re trying to correct. You never want to have mental errors because that helps the other team. They were good enough to take advantage of it, they made a play to take advantage of it.

Really, the one pass that we gave up for the touchdown, the long touchdown pass, that was an error also. I mentioned it after the game, we don’t have to give them things. That team’s good enough to earn things themselves without us helping them. Those are things we’re really trying to tighten up and make sure we get cleared up. It was interesting, when we settled down, we played, obviously, a heck of a lot better. That first drive, it looked ugly, but our guys settled down, and we did a good job of communicating and things on the backend.

On if he expected Tebow to generate this much attention and how Sanchez is handling it…

Well, I think Mark, he sees Tim as a teammate. I know Mark’s happy that Tim’s here. Everybody’s happy that he’s here. He’s a good teammate, he’s a good football player, and you know, you talk about a guy that has really humbled himself, we’re asking him to be a personal protector. Now that’s paying off for us. Obviously, the fake, we faked one against their base defense and he got it. We faked a couple already. They’re up, it’s going to eliminate a punt rush, I think it’s helped our team.

But that was part of the reason we got him here. We thought he could do multiple things. He’s that kind of athlete. The Wildcat hasn’t really got going like we hoped it would. Again, I think we’re going to try to build and get better at it. There’s been some times we’ve made some really nice plays in it. We just missed on one that’s unfortunate. I think he laid out a great pass there. Hopefully we’ll hang on to it next time.

On if they have to use the Wildcat more to make it more effective…

I’m not sure if that’s the case or not, but I know one of the things was the preparation it puts on opponents. They don’t know how many times you’re going to use it. What’s interesting was to get some guys' takes on it that I really respect in this game and I knew what the answer was going to be, that they put in a lot of time in preparing for it. I think it’s been successful that way. Obviously, we’d like to see it more successful on the field, but I’m confident that we’ll get better at that as well, as well as our offense, moving along and our defense. I think we can improve as a team, there’s no question, and Wildcat’s one phase of that.

On what keeps him from saying Sanchez will be the starter the rest of the year.…

A lot of things can happen and I’m not going to deal with what-ifs because I’m telling you right now he’s our starting quarterback this week, barring injury. Things happen, but I feel really confident in Mark. You’re right, I’ve never wavered on that.

On having to answer questions about Sanchez starting each week…

I have no problem answering questions each week, I don’t. You guys know me.

On saying Sanchez is the starter "this week" instead of for the rest of the year…

He’s our starter. What do you want me to say? He’s our starter. I’ve put it that he’s our starter this week. he’s our starter. You can go answer A and answer B and come up with C, I guess.

On if he is unhappy with the execution of the Wildcat…

There are times when I’ve been really happy when we execute. We’ve had some big plays out of it. Then there are times when it hasn’t been as good as I had hoped. We had a couple hits for a loss. We missed what looks like a huge gain down the field. Overall, we’re kind of just missing in some spots. I think we’re close. I really believe we’re close. I think we’re close with our Wildcat scheme.

I think we’re close with some other things as well. I think you’re seeing the type of weapon we all thought we had in Jeremy Kerley. I think he has really stepped up. I’m going to be excited to see Dustin Keller out there, to see that kind of weapon that a lot of teams don’t have that we’re fortunate to have. Quite honestly, the play of the outside guys, Stephen [Hill] had his moments, and he has been set back with an injury, but hopefully he’ll be back out there. Then when you pick up [Clyde] Gates, he makes a great catch, a one-handed catch, and then he gets hurt.

We've kind of been a little snakebit, but the next guy has to step up. I’m confident. I think we have a hardworking group and a great group of coaches, so I think we will improve.

On if he feels more confident in Keller or Hill returning for Sunday…

Well, I would say Dustin now, because I think his injury has had more time to heal. I’m hopeful that both of them will be out there. When you look at them, they’re limited in practice. I think that is, obviously, much better than being out.

On if pressure from the public has impacted his decisions to use Tebow…

No, none whatsoever. During that game, none of those thoughts have ever crossed my mind. We picked him up because we thought and we know that Tebow’s a good football player and he can bring our team certain elements that we thought were missing the year before. So I think that’s it. One thing I know about the public, the public wants to win, just like we do and I understand that. But the decision of playing Tebow, that’s going to be my decision. It’s not going to be the public’s decision or anybody else's, it’s on me. Quite honestly, I think I’ve learned through the years to maybe tune out the public a little bit, because that’s probably a good thing, because sometimes, they’re not real flattering I think, as I’ve learned to walk off the field and just keep earmuffs on, just keep going [laughter].

On if Sanchez is affected by Tebow’s presence…

It’s an interesting question, but I think the way I feel about it, I think we answered that question when we drafted Mark. Because playing in this market, not every quarterback can play quarterback in this market. I know there’s more pressures. You mentioned bringing Tebow in, obviously with his popularity and all that, that could be a distraction, could be a whatever, but quite honestly, Mark views it as, Tim’s a good teammate. I think that’s the way it is. Mark knows he's our quarterback and he tries to hit that practice field every day to get better and I think that’s what really drives Mark. He knows he has a job to do and I think he prepares that way.

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