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REX: Our Fans Have Been Absolutely Terrific

Posted Nov 29, 2013

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

We’ve got a list of guys that every one of them is questionable and that’s true. Unlike most of the time, where, "Right, he’s playing, he’s playing," we really have a list of guys that we’re going to have to see, we’ll wait and see. And that list would include [Antonio] Cromartie with his hip. He was limited today. [Jeremy] Kerley was limited today with his elbow. [Garrett] McIntyre was limited with his knee. So all those guys, it’s going to be one of those gametime things. [Santonio] Holmes did not practice and that’ll be one of those gametime situations as well. Antonio Allen did not practice with an illness, but I’m assuming he’ll be able to play. It’s just an illness, I think just like a 105-degree temperature or something, so he should be fine, one of those deals. Everybody else is probably on the list. [Nick] Mangold and [Chris] Ivory practiced full. I know they were limited before, so all those guys will play.

On if Holmes’ injury regressed during the week…

Well, no, it’s not going to be tomorrow probably, so we’ll see how it is. He did not practice today, so I’m concerned.

On if Holmes’ injury is the foot or hamstring injury…

I think it’s more of the hamstring now.

On Jermaine Cunningham

Well, I really liked him out of Florida. I don’t like him as much coming out of New England, obviously, but we won’t hold it against him too much. But no, here’s a guy that’s been a starter in the league, a very talented guy, so we’re fortunate. The guys did a great job of bringing him in. He’s been a quick study. He’s productive, had some playing experience and things, so like I said, if Garrett can’t go, he’ll step up in a bigger role.

On the team’s struggles with Miami at home…

We’ve won once, I think, since I’ve been here. I certainly didn’t say they hadn’t been great — they don’t like me anyways down there — but no, they play us well. It’s a divisional game and maybe it’s a rivals-type game as well. So we know we’re going to get their best shot, there’s no doubt about it, and I think they’re talented. When you look at their defensive line, that’s a talented group, in particular, and then I think the quarterback’s got a big arm, he’s a talented kid that can run. And then the receiving corps. So we know it’s a big challenge, The Miller kid [Lamar Miller]'s fast, so we know we’re going to be at our best.

On this week’s practice…

I think it’s been good. It hasn’t been ideal. I mentioned it before, some of things about the passing game, you try to get your timing, you try to get precision and things like that and if the game shows up and you have different receivers running routes, sometimes it hasn’t been ideal. But with that being said, I think the practice itself has been good. I think Geno [Smith] has looked good. The protection, guys are doing a good job, so I think our practice, the tempo has been good. Again, it hasn’t’ been ideal, but practices have been good.

On the added pressure and importance of Sunday’s game…

I think we all understand that, that’s for sure. We’ve talked about it, they see where we are, and clearly we understand how big of a game this is.

On how hard it is to have a revolving door at receiver this season…

Again, if you’re going to pick a perfect scenario this would not be it, OK? Let’s just say I think it’s been a little frustrating because you’re waiting for guys to improve and then you have a Kerley injury, a Holmes injury again, so it’s been disappointing, I guess. Maybe not frustrating, it’s been disappointing, but it’s the National Football League and these things happen. Like I said, the next man has to step up and if that means his role has to increase then that’s what it does, and especially now we can’t afford to make mistakes and take a step back, so regardless of who’s out there, we need to find a way.

On if he has any added comfort playing back at home…

I do. I feel better at home. Maybe it’s we’re familiar with it and all that. Our fans have been great, absolutely terrific, so I know we’re feeding off of it and we’re really playing [better]. Damn, I’m proud of it. We’re playing like this is our home, we’re protecting our back yard, and we’ve done a much better job of that this year than anytime since I’ve been here. So I think that’s a real positive. Maybe we’re like 7-1, if you include the preseason, which I would because we won three of them. But I think that’s been great, that’s been a real positive for us.

On if he’s wondering if he’ll have a 100 percent healthy Holmes this season…

Obviously injuries happen. He had that foot injury and that’s a tough one to come back from as a receiver. So he misses a ton of training camp and things and then all of sudden he comes back with a hamstring and it’s just unfortunate because we know when this guy’s healthy, he’s a tremendous player. Hopefully we can get him back through it and get him healthy because we’re going to need him.

On Kerley’s participation in practice…

He hasn’t been practicing full, so it’s just one of those things. Like I said, it doesn’t surprise anybody that he can’t go. We all saw the injury and we know what it looked like. I think it’s a little tougher coming back as a receiver than maybe it would be even at other positions. So we’ll see how it goes. He’s a gutty guy and tough young man and I know if he’s capable, he’ll be out there.

On what he needs to see from Kerley for him to be out there on Sunday…

There’s things, what happens if he gets hit, if he lands he has to protect himself. You never want a player out there who can’t protect himself, ever. If that’s the case, then clearly he won’t play. He’s been working hard. I thought it was encouraging that he played without the red jersey on. With the red jersey you can’t touch and all that. He’s progressed a little bit from where he was last week. Has he progressed enough? I’m not sure. I think we’ll just wait, we’ll see how he feels. Hopefully he feels better by game day and he’s ready to get out there.

Like I said, if it was up to him, just on pride and character alone and everything else, he’ll be out there. But we need him to be effective and where he’s protected. If he’s hurt and he’s in pain and all of that, I don’t want him out there if that’s the case.

On the relationship between Geno Smith and Matt Simms

No doubt, all of those guys together, they pull for each other. Matt Simms is phenomenal on the sideline. Everybody wants to play, everybody wants to start. He pulls for him. I’m there with him, I see it, I hear it. It’s genuine. That’s a great thing about him. He’s in Geno’s camp all the way and vice versa. These guys pull for each other. They’re great. Like you said, they’re going through it together, they’re young guys going through it together. Not a whole lot different from those guys who were in that defensive line room last year. Those guys had a little baptism under fire.

On if there is a chance David Garrard will be active on Sunday…

There’s a chance that if everyone else won’t, I guess that would be it. That’s really the only time we see him. We don’t look to carry three quarterbacks in the game but if he does it’s because there was nobody else, quite honestly.

On Cromartie…

Again, he’s playing through it. There’s no doubt he’s a tough guy, durable. I know he had the knee coming out, but he’s durable and he plays. If he can’t play, if he comes up and it’s a gametime decision and he can’t play, then obviously it’s a major deal. He’s just a tough guy. He’ll never make an excuse one way or the other. You know what, it’s happened. We’ve given him some tough challenges each week. Again, he hasn’t been perfect this year, probably hasn’t played as well as he did last year. How much this affects him and all that? It probably does have some effect on him.

On if he is disappointed in the lack of big plays on special teams….

No, I think our guys do a great job. [Ben] Kotwica does a tremendous job with those guys. I think the kickoffs, it’s tough now. Back in the day, you could almost count on us getting a few returns a year. But it’s so tough now, with the thing being moved up. We’ve had some opportunities at some blocked punts and things. Maybe this week. This Fields kid [punter Brandon Fields], I’ll tell you what, when you look at him, he’s the No. 1 guy in the league in distance. Hopefully he can hit a fat one and maybe we can bring it back. I feel good about our returners, I feel good about [Josh] Cribbs back there. Hopefully, it’s just a matter of time before he busts loose.

On Miami CB Brent Grimes…

He’s a playmaker. He can play off and he jumps things. I don’t think he’s given up a touchdown all season. He’s a great athlete, a great little athlete. He’s not the biggest guy but he’s a tremendous athlete. He has change-of-direction skills, ball skills. We have to make sure we’re very aware of him and we are, we’re aware of his talent. He’s having an outstanding year for him.

On if Smith can turn his season around in regard to turnovers…

I don’t think there is any doubt, I really don’t. It’s not just by words that it’s going to get done. I think right now he’s at a spot, it might not look like it, I think he’s understanding the game, he’s understanding the separation is a little different than it was in college, when you had Tavon Austin separated by 15 yards or something. It’s a little different. But he has the ability, I think he shows improvements. It might not look like it, but last week I thought he was tremendous in the pocket, he really was. Again, it never paid off on the stat sheet but I see it as a positive. I really do. He just has to keep getting a little better and I think we’ll really have something.

On how far Smith has come…

I think at first when you first see the guy who putting up the stats that he did at West Virginia, you come into the league, you’re thinking, "Hey, this guy can do it." We all saw what we saw in training camp, this guy has an NFL arm. There’s no question, he has NFL accuracy, the footwork and all that. I really tip my hat to David Lee. He’s done a tremendous job and Marty [Mornhinweg], they do a great job with him. He never took a snap under center at college, he was always in the 'gun. Their routes were timed up different, he would sit here and if Geno wanted to step back he would. If he wanted to slide, he would. There was not a whole lot of NFL-type rhythm, seven-step drop, five-step drop. It was all new. We knew that it was going to be a challenge. I think he’s done a good job.

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