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REX: Lions Will Be a Good Test for Us

Posted Aug 6, 2013

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

Good practice today. Much better than yesterday, which I expected. Communication's better, I think the whole attitude of practice was much better. Put them in, had a four-minute situation, a two-minute situation, an end-of-the-game situation, so we’re trying to throw it all out there, no-brainer situation if you will, so we’re coming up with everything. We should be prepared. I think guys are working hard, and the preparation in the evenings is good, so this will be fun.

I think going against Detroit, a lot of playmakers are there so it should be a great test for our defense and then when you look at them from an offensive standpoint, their team can really rush the passer so this I think is going to be a good test for us. We’ll start, at the quarterback situation we’ll start Mark [Sanchez], okay. Mark will start the game but we’ll play Geno [Smith] with the ones as well, and we’ll kind of keep that rotation going so they both get reps with the ones. Haven’t really decided yet on exactly what the play time will be with the ones or snaps and all that, but again, I wanted to make sure you guys were aware of that, that’s how we would line those guys up to start with. 

On why Mark Sanchez is starting over Geno Smith

Well again it’s been an even competition, we’ve been rotating days and things like that and certainly he’s the incumbent, but again the competition starts off, we’ll see how it goes from here, but it seemed like the natural thing to do.

On if Geno Smith will play against Detroit’s starters…

I can’t make that decision. I’ll call up Jim [Lions head coach Jim Schwartz], "Hey, Schwartz, how about leaving the ones out there?" I don’t think he’s going for that. "You want us to hold bags, too?" I don’t think he’s going to agree to that [joking].

On why he is not starting Smith to see him play against a starting NFL defense…

This is going to be, we’ll put our ones out and we’ll play it and you know the preseason doesn’t end after this first preseason game. Again, we’ll take it through as much as possible and we said this is going to be equal competition and it is going to be a competition and that’s exactly what it is.

On if he considered starting Geno Smith today at practice…

Yeah, and then I said, well, no, we’ll come back tomorrow and we’ll have them do that and then we’ll go back and let Mark start the game. You know, because really we’ve been going every two days and decided to stay in that same kind of rhythm and both guys will play in the game.

On what he hopes his QBs learn in the game that they cannot learn in practice…

I think the big thing is going to be taking that rush. We know Detroit really rushes the passer. You’ve got the Washburns there. Jeremiah Washburn is the offensive line coach but his dad [Jim Washburn] is there. This is going to be good. The one thing I know about Washburn, he’ll get after the quarterback now. So I think that will be good. We’ll see guys react to it. We've got to protect the football, we've got to be smart with the football. So I think that will be a good test, no question about it.

On how much ball security is part of his main message…

That’s part of the message but we also want to be aggressive and take our shots down the field, wherever. Be particularly smart in the red zone and your pocket awareness and protecting the football in the pocket, those are critical.

On if he came to camp thinking Sanchez would start the first preseason game…

No, no, it wasn’t in concrete or whatever. I guess normal thinking would be you’re going to compete with both guys, that would be a logical progression.

On if the first team will play longer in order for both quarterbacks to get time with that unit…

We’ll make that decision a little later. That’s a possibility that we will leave them out there a little longer.

On if he received an update on WR Vidal Hazelton

No, I have not.

On if Dee Milliner secured the starting cornerback over Kyle Wilson

I think we’re pretty comfortable with him. Obviously, in this day and age you start three corners. It’s basically who’s your corner going to be in regular personnel? That’s almost what it’s become. Kyle gives you a lot of flexibility in the fact that he can play nickel, play outside, play inside and he actually plays safety. We’re working all of those types of things. I feel very comfortable with Dee out there in regular personnel situations.

On what he’s seen from LB Demario Davis thus far in training camp…

He’s doing a tremendous job. I think his pass coverage in particular has been impressive to me. Brian VanGorder has done a tremendous job with him, David [Harris], as well. Real technician and fundamental coach. I think it’s great for Demario to learn under a guy like Brian. I think the best teaching tool is going to be experience, though, to put the ball out there and let him go. I think he’s probably going to learn more from game action than he will practice, even as much as he’s learned so far.

On if Davis’ pass coverage gives them an upgrade from Bart Scott last season…

I think Bart’s injury had a lot to do with that. Bart was out there probably when 99 percent of linebackers wouldn’t be. That’s about as tough as it gets. So when you have that type of injury, obviously it’s going to hamper you in part of your coverage. I don’t know if that’s really a fair statement about Bart because of the simple fact that he was injured. When Bart is healthy, Bart can cover. Obviously, I think the world of Bart. Demario is a young man that can really run. Everything being equal, he’s younger and faster right now, but I think the thing that really was preventing Bart from being an every down linebacker was probably the injury.

On how curious he is to see his defense against the offensive challenge of the Lions…

That’ll be a fun matchup now, there’s no question about that. Let’s see, you’ve got Megatron [Calvin Johnson] vs. the Megacorner [Antonio Cromartie]. I mean that’ll be a great matchup to watch. Who knows how many plays it’ll be for? You’ve got a freak at wideout and a freak at corner, so that’s going to be fun to watch. You’ve got Reggie Bush. I won’t say we’re going to put hot sauce on you, Reggie. I don’t want to offend you [laughter]. Get him just "Oh, I’m going to kill you." All right, thank you, Reggie. They’ve got a tight end there now. Where do they grow these kids? That guy’s huge and fast and all that stuff. I would say he could throw a strawberry through a battleship, their quarterback. This is going to be a great matchup, no question.

On if Joe McKnight must have had a concussion test…

Well, I think he’s still getting tests on it or something.

On if he feels McKnight has an issue in camp every year…

I think with Joe it’s not that he’s not in shape, because Joe McKnight’s in shape, he’s in phenomenal shape. But I’m saying he’s in shape but there are some guys who have anxiety in some situations. And I think that prevents more than anything because the very next day he runs it. He’s always done it, and it's just some guys are like that. But it’s not an indication he’s not in shape because Joe is in shape. But as soon as you say it, it’s just like when you get guys taking the ACT or SAT, some guys freeze up. At least that was my excuse [joking].

On if McKnight has an anxiety issue…

He has a little bit of that, a little anxiety in him when it comes to a conditioning test. He’s in great shape, but it seems for some reason, something like this happens. [McKnight does not have any clinically diagnosed anxiety issue.]

On when McKnight will be ready to play…

I wish you could ask [head athletic trainer John] Mellody that because I don’t know the exact deal. I just know when they tell me that Joe can play and he’s healthy to play that I’ll play him. But I’ll just lean on the trainers.

On if he knows if McKnight had a concussion test…

We’ll check. I just lean on Mellody and I get the list each time and I saw Joe out there. I talked to him yesterday, he was in the walkthrough, he was in different things.

On practicing without several running backs…

I think some of the things that we do, that Marty [Mornhinweg] does, you might not see if, say, Joe’s not healthy or whatever. We really thought that that was going to be a deep position for us and we hope it still is but obviously currently with our situation with Chris [Ivory] in particular being out and Joe being out now, that’s not the case.

On the importance of the secondary in his defense…

I think your secondary is always important, especially at corner. An old scout once said, and I believe it’s true, “You lose games fastest at quarterback and cornerback.” If you’re not good at corner or quarterback, you have a tendency to lose games with those positions. Obviously, regardless of how good your front is, you'd better be able to play the ball down the field as well.

On Quinton Coples practicing along the defensive line…

Well, your down and distance, when you’re looking at a two-minute situation, you can play him outside or inside. That’s the kind of flexibility he has, that he gives you as a playcaller. Absolutely he’ll do both. He’ll work outside, he’ll work inside. Today he worked a lot of inside.

On if there is a concern working Cromartie as a returner…

Just in case you have to have him to win a game, I would say that’s when you’re going to use him. He doesn’t know it, so Cro, as far as you know, you’re going to get back there. There’s no way we’re going to lose Cro back there. We’ve got some good returners and things like that. I’m always reminded of when Jason Sehorn returned that kick. He was a great athlete and all that and when he got hurt it was like "Oof!" what that effect is. So I remember that. I know you’re not going to see Cro returning in the preseason, let’s put it that way.

On if Ivory will be on the field Wednesday…

He keeps talking like he wants to but he hasn’t practiced. That’s probably a fair statement. I don’t know it to be 100 percent true, though.

On if he is frustrated by Ivory’s unavailability…

You’re excited to see him out there. I think we all are. Here’s a big back, 3 percent body fat. He’s a pounder when he runs the football. I’ll lean on John [Mellody] and our training staff. When they say it’s time, that he’s good to go, then he’ll be good to go. But until that time, it’s not that I question, "Oh, he’s not tough." No, that’s not it. When he’s cleared to go, he’s going to go.

On if Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards will play in the first preseason game…

I anticipate them playing. But again, I say that, you know, we’ll see. I’ll talk to our trainers, I’ll see how their programs, how their specific programs line up. I think Kellen is going, I’m not sure about Braylon right now because I’m not aware of his pitch count, if you will, his situation.

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