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REX: WRs Are Going to Have to Step Up

Posted Aug 1, 2012

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

I liked the way our offense came out in the first team period. I thought they won that first team period over the defense. It was first and second down type deals. I liked the way we ran the ball in particular there. We went and we expanded our offense a little today. A lot of three-tight-end looks and those types of things. Again, all those types of formation groupings do different things. You can line up with all those guys inside and run the football, you can spread them out and still be able to throw it because we are athletic at that position and I think that that gives preparation problems for defenses as well, but I like the way the offense started the practice.

Now with that being said, I like the way the defense responded. Obviously they took over the next team period. Then at the end when we had to have it, the defense, 4-and-out, came back again and ran the drill and Sanchez makes a great play to stay alive and makes a big throw down the field and I thought that was impressive. He got us in field goal range so that was good.

The going back to competition is good. I like seeing that. Tomorrow ought to be a fun day. We’re going to go with a short-yardage-and-goal-line day. There’s only one way to practice those drills and that’s full speed and live tackling and I kind of can’t wait to see that one tomorrow. Now with that, I’ll open it up to questions.

On Vlad Ducasse’s injury during practice and if it is serious…

I’m not sure, I saw him walking out so he seemed to be fine, but I’m not sure of the extent of the injury. Obviously, we’ll go and get whatever x-ray or anything else that we have and need to look at. I don’t think our trainers are overly concerned.

On Santonio Holmes not participating in the two-minute period…

Unfortunately, we had four healthy receivers at the end of that practice. We have 12 [on the roster] and we were down to four. Part of that is the tempo but part of it is the responsibility of the guys. You have to be in shape, we have to take care of our bodies. That’s frustrating. I told the team, most games we’re only going to have four receivers up. You have to go the whole game with this kind of tempo so we’ll challenge them and see how they respond tomorrow.

On Holmes’ injury…

It’s just soft tissue type things, and that’s what all of them are, which we’re fortunate about. There haven’t been major injuries but those things keep adding up and we’re trying to figure out why.

On if the injuries are from players not being in shape…

Well, I think when you break away and you’re away from the team you have to be in world-class shape. This is the type of tempo we’re talking about so whatever it is, we’re certainly looking at it. Whether we need to stretch more, we’ve identified the concern, we’re trying to fix it, and again, after one day I’d say that there are obviously still some issues there.

On if players didn’t listen to his message of coming to camp in shape…

Whatever it is, however they’re training, you have to look at everything. Certainly, we’ll look at everything and obviously our job is to try and help our guys. Whether guys never listened to that, I’m not sure. I mean, the defensive backs are running as much as anyone and we’ve been pretty healthy there.

On if he will consider dialing it back a little bit…

Well, you would always consider it , but if you dial it back too much, you hurt the rest of the team, so I think those guys are going to have to step up as a position group, we have to step up, and if not Tony [Sparano] has enough multiple personnel groupings that we’ll just keep going on with practice.

On if Holmes will practice Thursday…

I’m not sure. I haven’t heard anything. I believe he will, but I haven’t heard from John [Mellody, head trainer] yet.

On Antonio Cromartie saying he was the second-best wide receiver on the team…

I’m going to say this right now. Listen to me when I tell you this. I’m aware of what was said. I’m on top of it. I’m telling you that right now. I’m on top of it and it will not be a problem. And that’s all I’m going to say about the whole thing. Well, you guys heard, you guys know what was said and back and forth. We’re not playing it out through the media. We will handle this, I will handle this, I’m aware of it, we’ll handle it.

On what has been the hardest learning curve for the offense…

Well, it’s hard to say. I think we’re doing a pretty good job mentally, alright. I think the biggest thing is guys getting used to this kind of tempo. I think the offensive line is doing a nice job with it. But the guys that are running, you’ve got to go. And I think that’s probably the biggest adjustment.

On how the importance of tempo is stressed off the field…

Oh, we talk about it all the time. We’ve always talked about it on defense, we talk about it, Tony [Sparano] talks about it. His first message to the offense was that. So, we talk about it and then we go on the field and we practice to that tempo. We’ve had to make adjustments on the schedule based on how fast we’re getting snaps off. He’s always stressing getting in and out of the huddle. I think Mark in particular has done a real nice job of that. A lot of times you’ll go in with a wristband later to make communication easier and quicker. He’s doing such a good job of it right now. We had plans to go to it, but I’m not sure. Tony and I talked about that today, whether we’ll go with wristbands or not. Mark is on top of it.

On why Sanchez doesn’t need a wristband…

I think he’s got a great grasp of it. I think, right now, that he’s taken over as this is his offense. When things come in, he’s not having any problem at all with verbiage or anything else. It just comes out.

On if he’s ever been in a situation of having only four healthy receivers during training camp…

No, I mean, never have. It is unusual. There is no doubt, it is unusual. We’re trying to get them back out there. Obviously, you’re not going to put somebody out there that’s not ready to get back out there. That’s going to hurt them again. I just can’t put my finger on it. We’re trying to fix it, but it’s unusual, I’ve never been around that kind of situation.

On what he’s looking forward to during Saturday’s scrimmage…

Everything. A lot of the time guys that may have not had as many reps as the others have a chance to show what they can do and somebody raises their level. When the lights come on, that old saying the cream will rise to the top and that’s what you look for. The other thing is great competition. Anytime you put the ball down and its live, there’s great competition and I’m looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to having a lot of fans there.

We’re going to put it in the stadium. That’s where I’d like to have it because I think the fans will get a better view and the field is so good here that I think in the past, if it was more of a turf I would feel much more comfortable on the grass with the players. I think this field is so nice that we can do that and I think it will be a good experience for the fans and I know it will be a great experience for us.

On the likelihood of Sione Po‘uha practicing with stitches…

I’m not real sure there. We’ll see if he can even put on a helmet tomorrow. If it swells or whatever, we’ll see about that. John will be on top of that.

On how you measure if the tempo is a quicker than last year…

Just look at the clock and see how many plays you have. For instance, we had a 15-minute period on a nine on seven. We had twelve plays scripted and we got 24 plays done and had a minute left. I’m not saying there’s anything against what we did in the past, but it’s not this kind of tempo at all. Not even close.

On implementing more plays based on tempo…

Both. We’ll add more plays or take time down.

On tempo playing a factor in injuries…

Maybe so. Maybe that’s just it. It’s so much quicker that maybe that is the case but this is who we are and that’s not going to change. So, you know, that was what I mentioned before, that we’re not slowing up. This is not just great for our offense, it’s great for our defense because so many teams now are no-huddle or they do all these types of things and our guys will be used to playing at that kind of tempo. I thought a lot of no-huddle teams were gaining advantage because quite honestly, they’re not used to working at that level. I think we are.

On using offensive linemen at multiple positions…

I think the big thing is unless you’re one of the starting five guys and even the starting five, [if you want to be one of the good teams], you need to prepare for the worst scenario. Does that mean Matt Slauson moves to center? Whatever it is, you don’t just learn your one position but learn others as well. You know, I’m not just a left tackle, you’re a left and a right tackle. You’re not just a tackle; you might be a tight end. Whatever it is, the flexibility of it is you’re only going to have seven offensive linemen up for a game, generally. Guys have to learn different roles and that’s what we’re doing.

If I can ever get [Nick] Mangold convinced to go to the Olympics to watch his sister compete, then it will fall on Matt [Slauson] to be the center for that group and Caleb [Schlauderaff] and all that as well. Sometimes you want to be ready to handle it and obviously last year that was something that came up when we lost some guys that did a lot of things for us. Maybe we could look at other ways to be prepared for those situations.

On if he has been able to convince Mangold to attend the Olympics…

I think so. I think so. We are not there yet, but I am laying the guilt trip on him and everything else. You know what? His teammates understand. I think they're pushing him as well. It is not just me.

On if the offense has enough playmakers…

Oh, no question, no question. Again, guys, we don’t have a whole offense. We are just kind of piece-mealing our offense together and I think when it all comes down, it is going to be a real tough offense on the field. I also think it's going to be a New York Jets team. It's going to be ground-and-pound. It's going to be protect the quarterback and be able to throw it. And if they want to bring them all down in the box, then be able to throw it over their head. I think we have the playmakers to get that done.

On his expectations for DE Muhammad Wilkerson

He is going to have a huge year. I really believe he is going to have a huge year for us. He is a guy that there are so many things you can do with him. He can play outside, inside, right, left, down the middle of the center, whatever it is. He has got great athleticism. He is in great condition. I just think he is going to have a great year. He knows the system and I would be shocked if he doesn’t have a huge year.

On T Austin Howard

Well, like I said, you have to be ready to play both sides. You can’t just be backup and play one side. You have got to know two areas. You don’t go into a game with two backup tackles, a right and a left tackle and those are the things you are going to have to step it up mentally. He has done a real nice job. The last few days, he has had some really impressive practices so I am excited to see him. Whether he competes at right or left, sometimes that runs together a little bit, but you can’t let it. You have to know the system well enough to where Guge [OL coach Dave DeGuglielmo] plays you and you have to be ready to roll.

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