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REX: Excited by the Guys in This Draft Class

Posted Dec 4, 2013

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

As far as we’re concerned, probably our best day of practice we’ve had offensively. Not that it’s a good sign — it’s a great sign for us. Guys came out full of energy, bouncing around. Obviously, we need that. It’s just hard to explain but it was out there today. Unfortunately, our defense wasn’t as sharp so there’s some things we have to clean up, get better at and have a better day tomorrow. Offensively, a really outstanding practice, our last day in pads for us, so it was good to see.

I have the injury report. Kellen Winslow was the only one who did not participate today. That’s with his knee, that was planned. Tomorrow we’re going to practice him, on Thursday. Guys that were limited today: [Antonio] Cromartie with his hip, Santonio Holmes, foot/hamstring, Jeremy Kerley, elbow, and Mo [Muhammad] Wilkerson, wrist. Everybody else was full today.

On the timeframe for today's practice being the best offensive practice…

This season. This season, I think. The ball never hit the ground. From the timing, the tempo, everything, blitz pickup. This team is challenging now, this team will challenge your pass protection for sure. They blitz everybody, they’re blitzing corners, blitzing their special teams coach Bobby April. I’ve seen him come a few times. They literally bring everybody. It’s definitely a challenge for us but today I thought we did an outstanding job.

On Kellen Winslow saying the team has not practice well…

I’m not sure because I just tell you the truth. There’s times that I’ve said, just like today, the defense needs to have a better practice. I’ve been very honest about it. Maybe he hasn’t had a good practice or something, I don’t know. I guess you would have to ask him. I just tell you what I believe to be the truth.

On his plans for Dee Milliner

I don’t want to get into the exact starters and all that. But since you asked me that without asking me if he was starting or not, I want to throw someone that is going to start. I’m not going to mention anyone else — we already got Geno [Smith] out there and I think I said Ed [Reed] is out there — but D’Brickashaw Ferguson is going to start. He’s going to start his 125th consecutive game. He’s started every game since his rookie year. That’s the first Jet in the history of this franchise to start 125 consecutive games. Really, I appreciate you bringing that up, you gave me an opportunity to fire that out there without answering the question.

But again, I don’t really want to get into it. Let’s see how the week goes. Guys are working, we’re rolling in a lot of guys. We plan on using our roster and I have to do a better job of it, too, of getting guys more opportunities than they’ve got, in particular in the back end.

On what he has seen from Ed Reed

There’s a lot of things that are hidden that he does extremely well. I think we’re all waiting for him to hit the stats sheet on interceptions, I’m sure he is, too. It’s probably the longest he’s gone in his career without a pick. Certainly, they know where he is and given the opportunity they throw one out there at him, hopefully he’ll be able to make it happen. Again, I like our situation at safety. This past week I had a certain plan that I was going to use and I kind of scrapped it. I have to find ways to use all of our talent and I plan on doing that.

On LG Brian Winters

He’s kind of been like our team, kind of a little up and down. At moments he’s done extremely well and then maybe there’s a play or two plays, it just so happens that one’s a sack or a hit on the quarterback or something like that. Certainly we’re striving for him to be outstanding every play. Again, it’s not an excuse but he’s not the only one. I know he’s trying awful hard, he’s working. He has a plan. He goes out there, I hear Dev [OL coach Mike Devlin] all the time, “What’s your plan in this situation?” From his set, his target, everything. He knows that it’s a technique-driven league. You have to be at your best every snap. That’s something were really working on, his focus and, like anybody else, his technique.

On Josh Cribbs’ injury…

It’s unfortunate, too. I kind of feared it was going to be a bad injury. It’s his pec[toral], he tore his pec. He’s going to have a full recovery from that injury, but unfortunately he can’t play right now. He can’t protect himself. It's unfortunate we had to place him on IR.

On limiting Kellen Winslow’s snaps…

It’s interesting because when you look at his practice, he’s going to practice tomorrow instead of Wednesday. Part of that is that there is more of a pass emphasis in certain areas, that’s why I chose to practice him on Thursday. I understand where you are coming from, he’s a dependable guy when it comes from that. I have to clean up his comments, but other than that, he’s a pretty dependable guy.

On if he has the mentality that he is coaching for his job…

No, I don’t pull my hair out, it’s still gray. No, in all seriousness, I’ve always said it, no chance. I don’t think one day about it, I don’t. I just think about the opportunity that’s right in front of me. That’s getting this team prepared to play a game against the Raiders and the win. That’s all it’s about. I don’t focus on what’s past really this Sunday. I recognize we’re playing Carolina after that but not one thought has gone into it.

On Winslow cleaning up his comments…

I’m just saying some of those things that come out are a negative thing about this football team. I don’t see it. One thing I know about this team is that it’s close and it’s worked extremely hard. We haven’t had the results that we wish, certainly, especially these past three weeks. I think the preparation and the work and all that. Again, I’ll disagree, I’ll tell you the truth, what I believe to be the truth. That’s it, I’ve never not. If we don’t have a good practice, I’ll tell you. If it’s a horrible practice or whatever comment I made at Geno one time that I got ripped for, hey, I told you the truth. That’s it. I think if they let me handle that I think we’ll be probably be better off.

On Antonio Allen and his playing time since Reed’s arrival…

Maybe it has taken away some of his reps, certainly from what it was. Again, this young man continues to play at a high level. I have to get him on the field more. That’s what I plan on doing. It’s the same thing with Jaiquawn Jarrett, Jaiqauwn and all those guys, they’ve played well and warrant play time. We certainly have to take advantage of their athletic ability and things. This week, I don’t know if anybody is familiar with the Raiders, but they’re averaging close to five yards a carry. This is an old-school game now, this reminds me of the Raiders of old, where you run the football and you throw it deep. That’s what we’re getting from this group.

On Reed’s arrival on the secondary…

It might have impacted some of their plays, their play totals. I think it’s been helpful in a lot of areas. I think having him here, they have kind of gravitated to how he studies tape, all those types of things, the positives that you can grasp with his experience. As a negative, maybe some of the plays have been taken away from them where I have to do clearly do a better job of playing all of our guys.

It’s like this [Leger] Douzable kid, he can really play, but if he is sitting there on the bench the whole time because maybe he’s not Mo Wilkerson, I think putting him in the mix helps us. It’s the same thing with Antonio, the same thing with Jaiquawn. I need to play these guys.

On Winslow tweeting his prediction for the AFC Championship…

I think if he would have picked us I think we would have had more people here being like, “Oh, Gosh.” I think he had to exclude ourselves.

On this year’s draft class…

I’ll tell you what, if there is another class that has had five starters in it, I mean if this isn’t an A-plus class, I don’t know what you’re looking for. You probably have the Rookie of the Year in Sheldon Richardson. If not, I don’t get it. Maybe it’s another sport outside of football. You have a young quarterback who has started every game. You have a fullback who was our last pick even though he’s from Wake Forest, he’s starting and has done nice job. He’s a good, good player.

You have Winters, and yeah, he’s had some struggles, but guys he’s also done an outstanding job in some games. I think he’s going to be a guy that can be a starter for 10 years. He’s got that kind of look about him. That’s an outstanding pick, I don’t know where we took him, third round I guess. That’s an outstanding pick.

Dee [Milliner], I understand, has had some struggles, I’m not making excuses for him but he’s a rookie corner. I don’t know any other rookie corner that’s come in the league, outside of probably Revis, that jumped right in. I think we’ve been a little spoiled here with the corner play.

I think, to me, overall, it’s a great class. We have some young offensive linemen that we haven’t played yet, [Will] Campbell, [Oday] Aboushi. I think this class is as strong a class that I’ve ever seen.

That’s OK. That doesn’t mean anything. We’ll do things for different reasons or whatever. You try to win games. That doesn’t mean that these guys aren’t good picks. If they weren’t they wouldn’t have seen the field ever. I think this is a strong group. For us to criticize or be critical of a draft class that has five starters in the National Football League, as rookies, I understand it's New York media but this might be a little tough. This is a bit of a stretch, I think, to criticize this draft class. It’s as strong as I’ve ever seen.

On if it was Smith’s best practice…

Absolutely.

On how it was Smith’s best practice…

Very accurate with the football, everything was decisive, the ball was coming out and he was accurate with it, hitting the open guy. The whole tempo of the offense, everything, I thought it was outstanding. Protections, getting in and out of things, plays, checks and all that, it was just a great practice.

On if he has told Smith he is on a short leash…

No, I never told him that.

On if Smith is on a short leash…

Again, I don’t think like that. I come in, let’s just go to work and we’ll worry about how short the leash is on Sunday and hope we don’t have to use it.

On Wilkerson’s wrist and if Matt Simms received first-team reps…

Again, Matt practiced today. I won’t get into the exact number of reps or whatever. Mo’s wrist, he was limited today. We had Douzable in his place for most of it. He did get some reps. Again, I think he’ll be fine. He won’t miss, he’s a lineman

On why having five rookie starters is an accomplishment…

I just think it’s rare. I understand we lost a lot of players or whatever. If we go back and track any team, how many times you’ve had five starters, these guys can play. It’s not like they never had competition, they did have competition. They won the jobs. I think that’s what’s been impressive. With the experience, a lot of time when you have guys when you come into the league, sometimes you’re going to make mistakes and all that stuff. But the best way to learn I think is to get out there and play.

I think it bodes well for us in the future. I think this class an outstanding class, top to bottom. Will they all make it? I don’t know. When you watch them, I see improvement. The young offensive linemen and we have another guy, Dalton Freeman, who wasn’t even drafted, I think he has a chance, I’m excited about the guys of this draft class. Again, I think it’s going to be a real strength for this franchise moving forward.

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