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REX: Cinci’s as Hot as Any Team in the League

Posted Oct 23, 2013

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

Jeff Cumberland with a hamstring, Santonio Holmes, hamstring, did not practice. Guys that were limited today: Antonio Allen, groin/finger, Nick Mangold, ribs, Greg Salas, knee, Konrad [Reuland] with a knee. All those guys were limited.

On if Cumberland’s injury is from the game…

Yes, it’s from the game. I think he’s going to be OK, but we held him out today.

On Holmes’ progress…

He’s been doing a ton. You guys probably saw him running today. We hope to get him back soon, but again, he wasn’t able to practice today.

On if there is a chance Holmes will play Sunday…

I’m not really sure. We’ll lean on the trainers and doctors for that. We’ll see how he is, but the fact he didn’t practice today, I don’t know what that means. I think Cumberland, I feel good about him. Holmes, though, is progressing. I know he’s working awfully hard, so hopefully he’ll be out there soon.

On play Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson

Kerley doesn’t surprise me because he’s been making plays for us. Nelson was a great pickup for us. Obviously, having coached against him when he was in Buffalo, I knew he was a good player, good blocker, competitive guy, but again, you don’t really know what you have. He’s actually come here, he’s had to learn this system, but was almost forced into playing a little bit and the guy’s really stepped up. Sometimes these things happen, but I have to give kudos to our scouting department. They did a great job finding him and the fact that he’s come in and contributed the way he has is really impressive.

On Bill Belichick saying the Jets used the same push technique on Stephen Gostkowski’s late field goal that the Patriots were called for Sunday…

That’s not true. He’s got to make up his mind. Was he aware of this thing? Was it second-level, all this kind of jazz, or now the story is we did it? OK, I got you. The fact is we’re moving on. We earned that victory plain and simple, and we’re focused on Cincinnati now.

On if the win against New England can serve as a springboard going forward…

We were confident last time, we thought we should have beat them. We just have to focus on this team and that’s really all we do. The fact we’re playing Cincinnati, who’s probably as hot as any team in the league right now, that’s enough to think about.

On if Allen showed him something against New England…

We know he’s a talented kid. He was a playmaker in college. We liked him when he came out. We knew he would take time to develop. Here’s a young man that was on the line of scrimmage primarily at South Carolina. We projected him to a safety and we knew it would take time, but we have great teachers. We have Dennis Thurman, we have T-Mac [Tim McDonald], we have Brian Smith. They do a great job, and the fact that [Dawan] Landry back there, I think as a peer, really helps him, and it’s given him an opportunity to showcase what he can do physically.

Another guy, too, that’s played well for us is Jaiquawn Jarrett. So both those guys, they kind of share that role. In this particular game, it was more Antonio Allen, the week before, it was more Jaiquawn Jarrett. But both those guys are ready to contribute and sometimes you rely more on your matchups than you do other things.

On what he would like to see from Geno Smith going forward…

Just keep making strides. I think you see it on the practice field. I think he’s comfortable with our system. I think it’s now become his system. So I think that’s really good. This particular week, really, the next two are going to be very challenging for the fact you’re going to get multiple fronts, multiple coverages, show one thing, play different things. So you have two really good coordinators in [Mike] Zimmer and my brother [Rob Ryan] coming in back-to-back weeks, who are going to be challenging. But again, he can make all the throws. We said that about him. It’s now see it, recognize and make the throw, make the accurate throw. And he has to do it on time because both these teams will rush the passer.

On if he’s ready to say Smith is the starting quarterback going forward…

I’m definitely ready to say he’s our starting quarterback this week against Cincinnati.

On the styles of Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell

Both guys have their own styles. I think we saw Chris healthy and really starting to pound it in there. He’s a very physical back. He’s getting much better at pass protection. Powell is and all-around back, excellent out of the backfield. He’s outstanding in protection and he has his own running style. He kind of mixes in vision, power. So both those backs are very good.

On Bengals WR A.J. Green…

What does the kid not have? He has size, speed, athleticism, route-running, great catching radius. Like I said, in my opinion, he’s probably the best receiver in the AFC. There’s some good receivers, but in my opinion, he’s probably the best.

On if Antonio Cromartie will primarily cover Green…

Well, we’re not going to put Snacks [Damon Harrison] on him [laughter].

On Allen’s transition to safety after playing on the line of scrimmage in college…

It’s tough because now you have to make reads from deep. When he was on the line of scrimmage, basically he was an outside linebacker, so very challenging that way. Everything was new to him, but the fact the young man has really stepped up, and hey guys, it wasn’t overnight, and we knew it wasn’t going to be overnight, but the fact that he’s playing the way he is now I think is a real tribute to him. He’s really worked at it and it’s a tribute to Dennis Thurman, in particular, and Tim McDonald. Obviously, between those two, with Dennis and Tim, those are probably two pretty good mentors.

On if he has faced a pair of tight ends like Cincinnati has this season…

No, not this year, not like those two. Both of them have the size, length, all that kind of stuff. But in the past, certainly, we went against New England when they had [Aaron] Hernandez and Gronk [Rob Gronkowski]. That’s about as bad as it gets. But they’re starting to use this kid [Tyler] Eifert a little bit out of the backfield. They ran some strike passes as a fullback, ran him in the flat, ran him vertical, flexed him out wide like a receiver, and that’s really what he did at Notre Dame as well. Dee Milliner and him, they had a pretty good battle in that championship game.

Clearly, he’s more of a receiving threat right now than he is a blocker and that takes time. But he kind of reminds me of Todd Heap a little bit when he came into the league and that’s a compliment. The [Jermaine] Gresham kid, to me, is an all-around tight end. He’s one of the better tight ends in the league.

On the importance of winning two straight games…

We’d love to sign up for it, but again, it’s going to be a huge challenge for us. The Bengals are 3-0 at home with ones over Pittsburgh, Green Bay and New England. That’s pretty impressive. I think they’re coming off three wins in a row. This is a very talented team. But again, we have to fix ourselves. The improvement that we’re making is kind of little by little. I see us getting better each week. Clearly, we’re not where we need to be, but we’re starting to make that climb I believe.

On if Smith needs to be able to string together consecutive victories…

I think it’s more of a team deal than it is one individual. If we can protect the quarterback, Geno will be just fine. But the fact I see him growing and the way he ran, he had three big runs in that game, all for first downs or touchdowns. That was huge, not forcing the issue. So many times, especially in the red zone, you see a guy, he breaks contain and he’ll force that ball, when he said forget it, I’m going to run with it, and he was able to score. That was really encouraging to me because he does have a big arm. A lot of times, guys will try to stick that ball in there and that’s where you get in trouble. But I thought he did a nice job of making the throws that were there to be made, then getting rid of them and not taking the chance to make a mistake down the field.

On if Mangold’s injury is serious…

No, Nick will be fine. He was limited today, but I think he’ll be fine.

On if Josh Cribbs might get a chance to do more going forward…

Yes, absolutely he might. He’s certainly a talent, was a quarterback in college, so a multi-talented guy. But the thing you know the most about him is he’s a tremendous returner. He’s a Pro Bowl return-type guy and maybe we'll get him in a bit more on offense as a receiver.

On if questions about his job security have motivated him…

No, it really never has been about me, the security, all that kind of stuff, when I say it, I’m telling you the truth, it’s not how I think. But the fact about being picked as team 32nd, all this and that, yeah, I’d be lying if I said that doesn’t motivate you, drive you a little bit to say, “Hey, we’ll show you.” It’s about the people in our building. I know how tight this group is and I know the commitment that they’ve shown. The commitment doesn’t just start on Sunday, it starts in the offseason and all that, and again, we had the No. 1 attendance in the league. That’s encouraging to me and all that stuff. It does add a little fuel to the fire, though.

On what helps a street free agent to contribute…

Most of them have to have that experience to work. If you bring in a younger player, it’s probably more to develop the guy, but these guys right here were true pros. Cribbs coming in as a returner, that’s just like riding a bike to him, so I think he’ll get the idea, Ben [Kotwica] will show him what we need, here’s where the hole is going to be and he had to tell him once. As far as Nelson coming in learning a different system and all of that, it’s impressive to me because when I look down, I’m like, "What is this? I know what a smash corner is, I got that. I know what that looks like." But the verbiage, all that type of stuff would be very challenging. It just shows how sharp these guys are.

On what David Garrard showed to earn the roster spot…

I think his conditioning isn’t to where we’d certainly like it to be eventually. That’s why he works after practice every day, but it’s better. It’s good, I wouldn’t call it great right now. But the way he’s throwing the football, he can really throw the ball. I think he’s good for us. He has that experience, maybe somebody that Geno can even talk to because he’s been there and done it. But it was based on him physically more than anything else and the fact he’s very accurate with football and still has great touch on the deep ball. I think that was impressive.

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