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REX: We Have to Create Some Running Room

Posted Oct 11, 2012

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

[Mark] Sanchez, looking right now, he’s still our starter right now [laughter]. So I’m going to put that out there like, "Wow, that got a little air time, I think." I mean it’s funny because in all seriousness, he’s our starting quarterback and it doesn’t change and things and it is amazing, though, how things take off a little bit.

We had in practice, I thought it was a great practice except there was a little scary moment. Eric Smith goes up to knock a ball down, comes down on his leg. Luckily, it’s just a sprained knee, but I think Eric is probably going to miss this week with it. I’ll be honest, I thought it was going to be much worse than that. It’s actually good news. It's bad news he probably won’t go this week, but it was good news that it was just a sprained knee. But that was one of those things where you kind of, "OK, I think we’ve had enough of these." Fortunately it doesn’t look like it’s going to be too long.

Update on Kenrick Ellis, I know his MCL, it looks like he could be out a significant amount of time, maybe four to six weeks. We’re hoping with him it won’t be more than four, but we’ll see. I was hoping he could be back sooner, but we’ll find out there.

Guys that won’t practice today will be Sione [Po‘uha] with his low back again — he’s itching but I don’t think he’ll practice today — Kenrick, obviously. John Conner still with the hamstring, Nick Mangold with his ankle, Clyde Gates, shoulder, and obviously Eric Smith with a knee. Guys that will be limited: Bart Scott, toe, Bryan Thomas hamstring, Stephen Hill, hamstring, Dustin Keller, hamstring, Jeremy Kerley — now he may be full but I’m listing him down as limited right now until we see otherwise — David Harris also with a hamstring. He may be limited, but he may also be full, but right now I’ll just list him as limited.

Everybody else on this list will be full. That’s Aaron Berry, ribs, [Antonio] Cromartie, shoulder, [Nick] Bellore, shoulder, Sanchez, low back, Calvin Pace, Achilles, Brandon Moore, hip, [Matt] Slauson, knee, Austin Howard, back, Jeff Cumberland, ribs, and [LaRon] Landry, heel.

On if Jeremy Kerley is listed as limited due to a finger injury…

No, it was a finger. I think the finger’s fine, he plays with a splint. He had a little illness or whatever, so he may be full, but I’m putting it down as limited now until we see him out there.

On who he expects to play Sunday that is not practicing today…

I think Mangold. I think Nick will probably be able to go. Sione with a low back, we’ll see. I know he wants to go but that’s probably a questionable guy. Conner, I don’t see him going this week, with a hamstring. Gates with a shoulder, not totally sure on that one either. But, we’ll see.

On if he has heard from the league regarding Matt Slauson’s block on Brian Cushing…

No, it was news to me. I heard that the league is looking into that. Again, my tape, when I saw it, and now I’ve seen the TV copies and all that. Obviously, it’s an unfortunate thing and we’ve talked about that. I know the intent of Matt Slauson was not to injure Brian Cushing, without question. We wouldn’t try to injure anybody, but a great player like Brian, it's really an unfortunate thing. So it’s obviously in their hands. I know the intent of our player, though.

On if he is doing anything different in practice to improve the running game…

I mean, outside we’ve got to block and all that. There’s no magic scheme to try to run, like "Oh, we’re going to run the bin play" or whatever, like that’s going to get it going. We just have to block, we have to open things up and get some running room, that’s the main thing. I know there’s a lot of criticism that’s directed at Shonn [Greene] specifically. I don’t know if you have whoever as your running back, we have to create some running room. I think that’s the big thing, that’s what we’re working on. I know we’re working on it and I think we’ll see improvements, I do.

On if it has been a big adjustment for the line with the coaching change on offense…

We probably run a few more gap runs now than we did maybe last year, but I think it’s very similar. Really, every team, there’s zone runs, there’s gap runs and all that stuff, but it’s still about getting movement and it’s about widening the hole if we can and getting our guy to get to the second level.

On if rotating left guard is a disruption to the offensive line…

Well, Vlad [Ducasse] is part of that unit. I think when you look at that and so is Jason Smith. Guys that are up, they’re all part of that unit. The big thing, we all sing out of the same hymnal. It think that’s kind of maybe overblown a little bit. I think that’s probably a bigger issue maybe in pass protection, with communication. When you approach it like, these seven guys make up that unit and they have to know each other and you’re not going to know anything about each other if you don’t play with the guy.

Vlad’s earned that right to play. It’s not a whole lot different than rotating a defensive lineman or whoever. To become comfortable like you’re talking about, you have to be in there with each other and I think these guys are. Like I said, Vlad is part of that unit.

On if he will rotate in other running backs with Greene…

I think we’ve rotated. I think [Bilal] Powell has really earned the right to play some, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. He’s been absolutely tremendous in pass protection, I mean absolutely tremendous. He’s shown some ability to run and things. In an ideal world, you’d have two or three guys that you feel really good about. Have I lost confidence in Shonn Greene? The answer is no. I think we just keep giving him the ball, he’s working extremely hard. I just think it’s a matter of time before he starts popping. We all know once he gets rolling that the confidence, the whole team’s lifted when your big back is running.

On if Greene is frustrated with the run game…

I don’t sense it. I sense just that he’s working. I see him really working, like he’s wanting it. That’s kind of the feeling that I get, like he’s wanting that ball under his arm. I don’t think he’s lost any confidence whatsoever. I just think he’s really trying to get rolling. I think he made a couple of big runs in that game this past week, one was on that screen pass. There’s that power that he brings, he can run you over. Hopefully, we’ll get him rolling this week. I believe with the way we’re working, I believe its going to get better.

On why they don’t use the no-huddle…

We certainly could, that’s something that we could definitely look at. A lot of it, you can go no huddles out of certain personnel groupings and things like that. I think, with no other better reason, its like, last week we’re playing with a receiver that just got here for three days or four days, whatever it was, and he’s forced into being the third receiver. You’ve had some different cases, you think Dustin’s going to play and then he has a setback, can’t play. You have a brand new fullback in, who by the way, I thought had a tremendous game, with Lex [Hilliard]. You can’t teach everything in one week. It does, it sometimes puts you on your heels a little bit in calling defense and that’s something certainly we look at.

On if Gates will play Sunday…

Again, I’m not sure. This one, I don’t want to rule him out by any stretch, because he still has that speed and all that. Some guys respond differently off of injuries, it’s a shoulder. Could he play? We’ll see. I think he could.

On if having Gates out leaves him with three receivers…

I think we’ve got four receivers, right? We’d have four receivers anyway.

On if Hill will play on Sunday…

Yes.

On how Gates injured his shoulder…

I’m not even sure, I just know it’s a shoulder. It’s not anything that’s going to require surgery or anything like that. It'll just take some time to heal. As we looked at it, we don’t think it’s going to be a major injury, which obviously's one that would require surgery. It’s probably major to him, but it's not major.

On if this is the most banged up his linebackers have been…

We’re definitely banged up, losing [Josh] Mauga [and] having Bart fight through a toe injury that most people wouldn’t play with.

On Harris and Thomas being banged up…

Yeah, both of them dealing with the hamstrings and all that. There’s no doubt, we’re a little beat up. Again, no excuses. We’re fortunate that we have a lot of depth at linebacker. We feel good about our depth. [We have] guys like Demario Davis stepping up [and] playing in expanded roles. He’s a young man that has a tremendous future in front of him, and even right now, doing some of the things he’s doing and also doing a great job on [special] teams.

On Cromartie matching up with Reggie Wayne…

It’s going to be tough. I think if he just sat out there where he used to be, I think it’d be a little easier. We’d be able to identify where he is but they’re moving him around a little bit. Its kind of hard to get your hands on him. They put him in the slot, they put him in a lot of bunches, they put him in what we call snugs, which is a two-man bunch. They don’t want you to get your hands on him, and that’s something that obviously, we’re going to try to do. They’re not just going to let [Cromartie] go out there and ‘D him up’ from the line of scrimmage. They’re going to move him. But, that should be a really good match up.

On if Cromartie has elevated his performance in the absence of Darrelle Revis

No question. I think when he made the statement he did, it’s because he believes it. And quite honestly, he has that kind of athletic ability where he could be the best corner in the league. I think he definitely has stepped up. I see it in the meeting rooms, he’s even taken some of that leadership deal over with that backend. He understands Darrelle’s a great football player, but I think he took it as “I have to step up now.” We’ve always said he has more ability than probably anybody I’ve ever seen at that position, him and Deion [Sanders]. He’s starting to play that way.

When he plays against Miami, [Brian] Hartline’s targeted nine times with one catch. He goes out and has 250 yards receiving the next week. He’s matching up against guys, he’s doing a great job. Andre Johnson with one catch, for 15 yards — that’s impressive to say the least. Now this one, Reggie’s going to catch his share, there’s no doubt. It’s not necessarily going to be a true isolation, though, because of where they put him. I’m happy we've got Cro, to say the least.

On why Cromartie doesn’t dominate every game like he did against Houston…

That’s an interesting thing because you’re exactly right. He has that ability to be the best, with Revis being out, I don’t disagree with him thinking he has that kind of ability because he does. Now [with] the focus and everything else, he is really elevating his game. I truly believe that.

On Cromartie as a receiver…

He's not just a corner. Let’s face it, he was the second-best receiver on our team [joking]. After he went deep, "Shoot, man, he might have sold himself short." [laughter] I remember when he was at Florida State, and I mentioned this before, at his pro day he worked out as a corner and he also worked out as a receiver. Obviously you never had tape to back it up, but watching him run those drills, he looked like a first-round receiver. That’s the ability he has. He has size, speed, change-of-direction skills and great ball skills.

Even going into it, when we put him over there, it was in case you only have four receivers up, somebody goes down, you need a guy that can step in there. That’s basically what we do. We’re kind of training him for that. We’ve had to use him. Just like we kind of trained Joe [McKnight] for it, in an emergency situation, to go play defensive back. I think Joe can do that.

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