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REX: Stunned? Yeah, I Would Say So

Posted Dec 27, 2012

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

All right, first off, you’re not going to believe this one. Today, Greg McElroy was lifting and experienced headaches. Come to find out that Greg wasn’t exactly truthful with our training staff after the game. He never disclosed any symptoms after the game to our trainers. But right now he’s being evaluated for a concussion, and with that there’s no way I’m going to play him, there’s no doubt. I don’t care what the tests say, we’re going to err on the side of caution there. So we’re definitely, he will be out for the game.

So with that being said, I’m going to start Mark Sanchez and the reason I’m starting Mark is we have two practices and one walkthrough to get ready for Buffalo. Mark has had success earlier in the season against Buffalo, he’s very familiar with them, and that’s the reason I’m going with Mark. I had the conversation with both Mark and Tim [Tebow] a few minutes ago about what I was going to do. Obviously, Tim’s not happy with that, as you’d expect. But again because of the reasons I stated earlier, that’s why I made the decision to go with Mark.

Obviously, it was about 9:30 or so is when I found out about it, when Greg came in to me. With that being said, I’ll give you the list of injuries right now. We have several guys not practicing today: Dustin Keller with his ankle, Muhammad Wilkerson, concussion/knee, Ellis Lankster, concussion, Chaz Schilens, knee, Aaron Berry, hamstring, Braylon Edwards, knee/hamstring, Bryan Thomas, chest, LaRon Landry, heel/hamstring, obviously, Greg McElroy, abdomen/concussion, Joe McKnight, illness/ankle, and that’s a migraine again.

All these other players 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, Bilal Powell, shoulder, Garrett McIntyre, elbow, Nick Folk, mid-back, Brandon Moore, hip/foot, Tim Tebow, ribs, Sione Po‘uha, low back, Robert Malone, illness, and Ricky Sapp, ankle.

On his reaction to the quarterback situation…

Well, I was stunned by it. He came in and, look, I admire his courage and everything else, but you have to be truthful, and I think that’s a lesson learned here, with the medical staff. The fact he really wanted to play, I understand the competitive side of Greg and all that, but the most important thing is the health of the players. And obviously, I just feel fortunate that something like this showed up without him going out there again and putting himself in harm’s way. But again, was I stunned by it? Yeah, I would say so.

On if the trainers noticed McElroy’s symptoms…

No, Greg noticed the problem and went to the trainers.

On if McElroy told the trainers today that he had been experiencing symptoms the past few days…

Yes. That’s when he was truthful with our training staff.

On if there was any hesitation to choose Sanchez over Tebow…

Well, no, because when I looked at it, you only have two practices left, you have one walk-through and the fact that Mark has had success earlier in the year against them as the points I stated, I thought that this is the right decision.

On if Tebow verbally communicated his disappointment…

Obviously, he’d like a shot at it. When you look at it, I think with the situation the way it is, it’s a short window really to get the preparation time in and things. I just think it’s the best for our football team. That doesn’t mean that Tim won’t play in this game, but I’m just more comfortable starting Mark.

On if Tebow and Sanchez will be active and McElroy will be inactive…

Right, yeah, he is going to be out. He is out. I don’t care what the tests look like, he’s definitely going to be out.

On what it would take for Tebow to be named the starter…

Well, when you look at this, I think when you look at the circumstances that we’re in, that are playing into this, I think, without question, this is the right decision to start Mark. You’re down to two practices and the fact that in the first game of the year, he had success against Buffalo, he knows Buffalo and I think it’s the right decision.

On if he would’ve considered Tebow more as a starter had he found out about McElroy’s injury earlier Sunday…

Again, you know what, that wasn’t the case and I’d really rather not speculate on that and I hope you can appreciate that.

On if there are any repercussions from the league office for McElroy not disclosing his symptoms to the medical staff…

That’s an interesting question. I’m not sure. I think hopefully this will be an example to all the players. Because the worst thing that could’ve happened is he would’ve gone out there with nobody knowing how he really felt and hurt himself. That obviously would’ve been the worst situation. But the fact that he was truthful, eventually, obviously, not in the time he should’ve been, but hopefully it will be an example to other players that, look, you’re hurting yourself. And obviously that’s what the league’s trying to prevent but the league needs to help with the players as well to let this protocol work and I think that’s important.

On if McElroy tried to argue with him about his decisions…

No, I never gave him that, so there was no sense doing that. Sometimes as a coach, you have to take care of your players. Obviously, this was a situation where if I know the guy is struggling, I’m not going to put him in there, period.

On if he chose Sanchez to start because the game plan was already installed…

It was more based on the facts I already mentioned about Mark having success earlier this year and the prep time. It has nothing to do with any other factors.

On when he told Sanchez and Tebow who would start…

I told them together in the hallway. They were in meetings. I don’t know if they assumed that this was going to happen or this was going to take place because Greg wasn’t in the meeting. I saw them in the hallway and that’s when I talked to them.

On if players might hide concussion symptoms in order to keep playing…

I don’t deny that that could be a possibility, but I think with all the information out there about concussions now, players need to be honest. The training staffs, I don’t care how good they are, the medical staffs, and how good the protocol is of the National Football League, you need to be honest. It’s set up for you. You can’t tell. I don’t think anybody could tell. It’s obviously extremely important that players are honest with the medical staff.

On McElroy’s situation makes him think what else players may have hidden from him…

It’s tough, but with your point about our players, in Greg’s situation, he was the third-string quarterback given an opportunity to compete as a starting quarterback, I can understand you want that opportunity. Every player in this league wants that opportunity, but the health of each player in this league should be the most important thing. Whether that happens, I don’t know. I think you can just try to educate your players as best you can. I don’t know how you can relieve the anxiety that may exist that "Hey, you’re not going to get another opportunity" or "You’re going to be passed over." I don’t know how you can do that, but again, the health is the most important thing and I’m talking long-term health as well.

On if he will mention to his players the importance of being honest about injuries…

Absolutely, after practice, I’ll bring it up.

On when exactly the injury to McElroy may have occurred…

Not yet, I haven’t talked to J-Mell [head athletic trainer John Mellody] about it or anyone else. We haven’t done that yet. Again, when it occurred, I have no idea.

On if McElroy gave him any indication on when the injury may have occurred…

No.

On if McElroy was the only one that told him…

No, Greg and John came into my office and told me.

On how big of an opportunity the Buffalo game is for Sanchez…

I think it’d be huge. Any competitor would be excited about getting another opportunity. I know he believes in himself and I think any competitor would want this opportunity.

On if he can understand Tebow’s situation…

I can understand. There’s no doubt, I can definitely understand the frustrations of not getting the opportunity to play as much as I’m sure he would have liked. The fact that our team has struggled, I’m sure there are some frustrations there and I certainly understand that.

On if he can address the conversation he had with Tebow last week…

I’m going to stay with what I said before, if Tim wants to address it [he can].

On his belief that Tebow would have gone into the game if he asked him to do something…

Again, I’ll stand by exactly what I said, I believe if Tim would have been asked to do something, he would have gone into that game and done it. Right now, in this game, I feel like whatever we ask Tim to do, he’s going to do it. Is he disappointed about not starting this game, absolutely, but in my opinion, Tim will do whatever is asked of him.

On the conversation with Tebow last week…

I’m not going to get into any specifics of that. I’m going to keep that conversation private. I’m comfortable with my answer. Maybe nobody else is, but I am, and I’ll just leave it at that.

On if Wilkerson will play…

I think Mo is going to play. I think the next step, he just has one more test to pass and then we’ll see how it goes. Him and Ellis both, I think have passed some of the test requirements. I believe there’s one more test that both of them have to pass, but I’m hopeful that they’ll both be able to play.

On if he downgraded the statuses of Thomas and Edwards…

I think Bryan Thomas was out, I believe yesterday as well. Then Braylon, I believe was out. I thought he would have played but his knee kind of flared up there. Hopefully, he’ll be able to go. I’m not saying he’s out of the game. I’m hoping that he’s going to be able to play. Obviously, with LaRon, that’s been a common thing that we do during the week, so I feel good about him playing.

On if he knows the grade of McElroy’s injury…

No, I think he’s just now being evaluated. I don’t even know what the tests are going to say, but I think, right now, he’s going through those evaluations.

On what he saw from the team in practice yesterday and his confidence for Sunday…

We had a great practice, and as you guys know, we were out there in the conditions. As the team periods went on, the conditions got worse and worse, so in preparing for Buffalo, I think it was good to go out there because you never know how those conditions are going to be. I thought it was a spirited practice. I thought it was an excellent practice, so I expect our team to go out and not just give a great effort, but play well.

On how come McElroy will definitely be out when Wilkerson might play…

To have those kinds of symptoms and all that type of stuff because once you do the weightlifting, you stress, it’s strenuous activity, and he’s going to have that, I’m not going to do that. There’s no way. With Mo’s situation, Mo I think felt he could have practiced, but he had to go through the test. That’s why I feel confident Mo will be able to play.

On their postseason evaluation of Sanchez…

We’ll definitely go back and evaluate the whole season. After the Buffalo game, there’s no question we’ll go back and look at the entire season.

On if McElroy had symptoms other than headaches…

He had headaches and when he came into my office, he had a towel around him. You could tell he wasn’t feeling too well. There’s no question about it, with John Mellody there. Again, I believe it was just headaches. I’m not sure if there were other symptoms as well.

On if McElroy indicated he may have blacked out during the game…

No, nobody knew. If anything would have happened like that, our trainers [and doctors] would have acted immediately. But no, that wasn’t this case.

On if this is the strangest season he’s had as a coach…

I would say that’s pretty accurate, and we’ve had some strange ones [laughter].

Preseason Live: New York Jets

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