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REX: I Want to See the Young Guys Compete

Posted Aug 29, 2012

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

It’s so strange because tomorrow we have so many things happening. We have the Kickoff Luncheon, oh, and by the way we have a game tomorrow. It’s just on you so fast but with that said, I’m excited to see some guys who haven’t had a whole lot of reps. I’m excited to see [Greg] McElroy play, and [Matt] Simms only had the one scrimmage and he looked good in it, so I’m excited to see him. [Terrence] Ganaway, [we are] going to see him get a chance. He’s going to play some tailback, some A-back, if you will, and some fullback.

I want to see these young guys compete and there are some roster spots still up for grabs. Let’s see that happen. Let’s see how good of a coach Guge [Dave DeGuglielmo] is and get Jason Smith out there. I hope they don’t give us too much on defense because the guy has been here for about five hours. We’ll see how sharp he is. It’s a good test. Obviously Philly is an excellent team and last year they pressured the heck out of us and we kind of struggled, obviously. Think we’ve been struggling now, go back to that game [joking]. That’ll be interesting to see. But it does seem like it’s on us in a hurry.

On how much Jason Smith will play in tomorrow’s game…

Maybe about ten plays. I want to see him for ten plays, but I don’t even know if that’s a possibility. He’s supposed to be a sharp young man, let’s see what he can do. If it’s less than that, whatever, but I’m hoping for ten plays out of him.

On his thoughts about the trade for Smith…

I think it’s going to be good for both teams. I think those are the best trades. With Wayne [Hunter] being familiar with Schotty [Brian Schottenheimer]'s system, I’m sure that’s going to help Wayne when he goes there. I think he needed a fresh start. The same can be said for Jason with the fact that I think sometimes when you’re that high of a pick, the expectations are automatically they assume you’re Orlando Pace. Orlando Pace is a Hall of Fame tackle. I don’t know if that was fair to place on him.

Certainly, Jason’s got the athleticism that you look for. He’s got the left tackle movement skills. [He] can play right tackle, left tackle and we are going to put him in a similar role that we had pegged for Wayne and be a backup tackle and, with his athleticism, play some tight end for us as a blocking tight end. I think Jason will be able to handle those kinds of roles.

On if Smith can do as good a job as Hunter as the sixth lineman and blocking tight end…

I think that’s the role that I like and I see Jason being able to do that role. I think Jason, when he came out, obviously has a great athletic tool set if you’re the second overall pick. The guy has got phenomenal movement skills. That was it. We wouldn’t have considered the trade if we didn’t think he could play those roles. Clearly, we think Jason can play those roles for us and quite honestly you get a tackle that’s maybe five years younger. We’ll see. Is his future guaranteed past this one year? No, it’s not. But we’ll certainly give him that opportunity. We feel good about it. I feel good for Wayne going back with Brian where he’s familiar with the system.

On the factors that influenced the trade to bring in Smith…

Five years younger and a little more athletic. I think when you look at it, when you break it down, Wayne is a bigger man. Jason’s not small by any stretch of imagination, but I think he has a little bit more athleticism. I felt good about Wayne being back in that role. Wayne played a lot of good football for us in there. I see Jason as having a similar skillset, maybe being a little more athletic and maybe not as big, but I feel good about Jason. That’s why we made the trade.

When the trade was proposed to us, we were like, man, I was comfortable with Wayne in that role, but that’s just an opportunity. Let’s take a look at him and see this young man. Again, we felt good that he could fit in these roles for us, be that jumbo tight end, six-man swing tackle, if you will, and he is five years younger. Does he have a future with the Jets past this season? We’ll see.

On the regular starters that will be playing tomorrow…

I think there’s a possibility of John Conner getting some reps, because quite honestly we haven’t used the fullback. We tried [Nick] Bellore there a little bit, maybe he’ll get a few snaps there. I want to see [Terrance] Ganaway in that role a little bit, that’s a possibility. Austin Howard, I’d like to see him get a few snaps. I think we’re going to give him 11 snaps. That’s a long story, you’ll have to ask Tony [Sparano] about that. I want to see him play and I want to see [Quinton] Coples play. Coples is a rookie and I want to see him play. [Stephen] Hill has had so many reps, that I don’t know. I’m still not sure about that one yet.

On what position will be the hardest to cut on Friday…

I think linebacker. We’re stacked pretty good at linebacker. Again, just because, and we’ve said it before, you try to keep the best players. If that means you have five inside linebackers or whatever, then so be it because you always use the best players. You usually don’t go wrong if you keep the best players. I always go back to the time I was in Baltimore, we had Ed Reed and Dawan Landry, two excellent safeties. One super Hall of Fame safety, and one really good safety. We drafted two safeties who both are still playing in the league, both good safeties. By the way, we picked up Jim Leonhard. We kept five safeties, and that was the best thing we did for our team. I think you’re going to use good football players and that’s the thing Mike [Tannenbaum] and I always talk about. It’s not, the well we have to have nine offensive linemen, we have to have this, we have to have that, let’s just keep good football players and generally you don’t go wrong that way.

On Greg McElroy

I think his arm is stronger. If that’s possible, to build your arm up, I think it is. I think he has shown a stronger arm. Clearly, we always knew he’s a smart guy. I think he has a good grasp of our system. If we can protect him a little better than we did last year [laughing], maybe we’ll get to see him throw the ball a little bit instead of just get smoked like he did last year. Remember that first game, we came out, well, he proved he was confident. Wow. But I think he has a chance, I really do. I’m encouraged by [Matt] Simms. We haven’t seen Simms do anything except have that great scrimmage and he has a big-time arm. It will be fun to watch those two.

On any players competing for roster spots he is specifically looking at tomorrow.…

There are some, but I’d rather not say who they are, let them compete. There are still some spots out there that when you get into the last game you have an idea of where it’s going to be, but eventually you always do what’s in the best interest of your team. But some guys, it seems like, will step up and actually earn a spot.

On Mike DeVito’s status…

I feel good about Mike. We have a game tomorrow. He can’t play in that because of the calf, but I feel good that he’s going to be able to play against Buffalo. All those guys, Eric Smith is the only guy, with that knee and hip, he’d be the only one that I’m not really sure about. The other guys seem like they’re really making strides. You had [Chaz] Schilens out there doing individual yesterday, so that’s an encouraging sight. He can’t play tomorrow night, but I was encouraged by that. Cumberland was in a red jersey. I think we’ll be in good shape when we play against Buffalo.

On if Ricky Sapp will play tomorrow…

It was a high ankle. He’s getting better and he was doing some things, but I guess he’s not ready to play yet.

On if he’d consider McElroy or Simms to start instead of Tim Tebow if Mark Sanchez got hurt…

I think Tebow would expand his role. I think we feel good about what Tim can do. We’d be confident in McElroy. Simms is kind of the wild card. He’s a young man who really hasn’t been given a whole lot of opportunities, but the opportunities he has gotten, he’s been impressive.

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