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REX: We Have Confidence in Bilal, Always Did

Posted Sep 26, 2013

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

First off, thoughts and prayers go out to Chris Berman and his family. I know his father, Jim, was a longtime Jets supporter and fan of the Jets. But I just wanted to throw that out. We’re thinking about you.

As far as practice goes, it was a pretty good day today. We did make some mistakes, so we’re not there and it’s a good thing we never played because we made some mistakes that we need to fix. Guys were working hard. I think tomorrow should be a better day and we’ll be ready to roll.

As far guys that did not practice today, we have Oday [Aboushi], out with knee, did not practice. Quinton Coples with his ankle, Santonio Holmes with his foot. Both those things, it wasn’t like they had a setback. Those days were planned by our training staff. Dee Milliner was not able to practice today with his hamstring. Neither was Chris Ivory. These players were limited: Kenrick Ellis, back, Clyde gates, knee, Kellen Winslow, knee, and Sheldon Richardson, shoulder. So that’s the list.

On Milliner’s injury...

It’s just that he wasn’t able to go today. Again we’ll see how he looks tomorrow and the trainers, doctors tell us. But he wasn’t able to go today.

On if Darrin Walls will be the nickel if Milliner is out…

That’s certainly a possibility. If that was the case, Kyle [Wilson] would be the nickel. Walls would go in to play the corner.

On if he’s disappointed with Milliner…

No, just the opposite. The kid was coming and so we’ll see. Hopefully this isn’t that big of an issue because he’s certainly, he’s going like this [improving]. Did he have a poor performance against New England? It wasn’t at the level we wanted him to play at? Yeah, absolutely, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t happy with him. He played well this past week. The kid is only going to [improve].

On if he’s concerned with Milliner’s injury history…

But how many games did he miss in college? Yeah, exactly, I think one game, I think that was it. In this game it's 100 percent injury rate as we’ve always said. So we know everybody gets hurt. This kid hasn’t missed time. We’ll see how he goes through later on this week with his hamstring. But no, we’re not concerned that he’s an injury thing. He played with a shoulder that probably could’ve been operated on. Some guys might’ve had it operated on way earlier in the season. Instead, he goes all the way through, plays in the national championship game, gets ready to run in the combine, runs a 4.3-something, and then has the surgery. So one thing we know about Dee: very competitive young man. Hopefully it won’t be long with this injury.

On how Milliner is dealing with the injuries and his benching…

Well, the benching that happens to everybody, so I think that’s just part of it and he understands that. Everybody understands it.

On Milliner being competitive…

Oh yeah, you’ll see. You get to talk to him today.

On if he has concerns about the durability of players who come out of the SEC…

No, sure don’t.

On if his goals for the team have changed given the 2-1 start…

No. With us, every game we went into, we thought we’d win. So we’re not where we wanted to be. We’re probably where we were expected to be, but hey, we’ll just keep working. Obviously, we know we have to improve a great deal. But we’re working to get better each day and each week.

On proving people wrong…

All right, we’ll see. It’s a long season ahead. I think I know what it’s going to look like but we’ll see.

On what they saw out of Demario Davis coming out of college…

Well, he jumped off the tape. That’s what you look for. A guy that can run and hit and has the physical tools to play in this league, that’s the first thing you look for. Then you start bringing him in, even one of the 30 visits that we brought in, so we could spend more time with him in the classroom, see how he picks things up, see the feedback he gives you on his defense and all that. And then also understanding how, when you look at a guy, you kind of project the kind of teachers that you have around him, can he pick it up?

With him we were obviously really confident that Demario would be an outstanding pro and I think his situation was really an ideal situation in the fact that you had Bart Scott in front of him. Bart’s a tremendous player and a great mentor and leader. And then he just kind of passed the torch on to Demario.

On his expectations for Bilal Powell when the season started…

We knew he’d compete for playing time at that spot. We have a lot of confidence in Bilal and always did. Number one thing for a back, he’s outstanding in pass protection, let alone his running skills and pass receiving skills, so that we knew was a real positive about Bilal. But did we think he’d have to carry it, how many, 27 times or something like that? We thought that’d be distributed maybe a little differently, but a couple of backs weren’t available.

On if they may make a move at running back by the end of the week…

I guess anything’s possible, but we’ll see what happens. The good thing about our situation is Tommy [Bohanon] can play some tailback and Konrad [Reuland] can play some fullback as well. But again, with us, we’ll see how Chris is, but if we think we need to make a move, I’m sure we’ll consider it.

On if he’d like to see the defense create more turnovers…

Well, there’s no question. That’s something we need to get better at. We've got to create some opportunities for our offense. Obviously, this week’s going to be a huge challenge in that regard, this team hasn’t turned the ball over yet. But again, yeah, we need to. We’re doing an outstanding job, especially in the red zone. I’m not taking that away from our defense at all. Pleased with it? I kind of expect it, that we’ll play good on defense.

It seems like we’ve had one major breakdown per game. If we can eliminate it, like I said, we’ll be pretty good. We gave up a touchdown on a blown coverage in the New England game and when Buffalo scored their touchdown, it was on a blown coverage also. Those are two right there. I don’t know how many touchdowns we’ve given up, I think three this season, and two of them are on blown coverages. If we fix them and continue to play well, especially in the red zone, we should be pretty good.

On the difference between the Titans last year and this year...

I think it’s a big difference, their team’s different. Just the people they have in there, they put a lot of resources into that offensive line. Obviously you got [Andy] Levitre coming over from Buffalo, a high-price free agent, and then you draft [Chance] Warmack from Alabama. Those are two really, really good football players, and then you've got the two former Pro Bowlers. They’re really running the ball, they are committed to it. The time of possession is like almost four or five minutes different from the previous season. Do you expect it out of a Mike Munchak team? Yeah, I think so, I don’t think there’s any doubt.

On what he remembers from last year’s game against Tennessee…

You look at the tape and you learn from it. You do all that type of stuff, but obviously it was a very disappointing night for us.

On if the identity of the defense has shifted…

Nah, it’s our defense. You’ll do things based on your players, but obviously you mention the front. We have some very talented guys we put some high picks into. Like I said, we have three first-round picks in a row in that defensive line and every one of them are hits. That bodes well for us moving forward.

On how important it is for a linebacker to be agile…

I think a big thing that we like to do is play our sub defense, if you will, third-down defense with two inside linebackers. If you can do that, you’ll stop the run better. Sometimes you’ll have mismatches as far as beating protections, beating a back, something like that. It’s hard because you have to be able to run with tight ends, you have to be able to run with backs, man coverage, certain zone coverages. That’s why you’ll see a lot of teams just play with one linebacker. With us, we’ve always preferred to keep both of them out there.

On Titans WR Justin Hunter…

He makes a huge play this past week, obviously. He’s a guy, a down-the-field guy, a tall, linear-type receiver. The thing I’m impressed with is that he goes up for the ball, he competes for it. He always did that in college as well. It’s not surprising that he made that catch at the end of the game there. What is a little surprising is the big kid out of Rutgers [Kenny Britt], he hasn’t played as much as what I remember in the past.

On how Ellis Lankster got to where he is now…

Just hard work. He’s a guy that puts the work in, obviously he’s got the toughness, he’s got the mentality to play corner. You got to forget the play before and move on if he does get beat. I love his competiveness. He’s a tough guy, there’s no doubt.

On a clip from NFL Films when he was miked on the sideline regarding the playbook…

What happens with that, each week you have a different game plan. It’s about this thick or whatever. Every now and then, somebody will fly off the radar, "Give me the bible, I want to see this, this and this from it." That’s not in your game-plan-specific book, that’s in the stuff you did in training camp or something you’ve done in the past. I call it a bible. That time I was probably looking for the real Bible, too, but that’s how it goes.

On if he had the book with him…

I didn’t have it with me.

On if he received it by helicopter…

No, but we found a way to get it.

On if Santonio Holmes is back to his previous self…

If he says no, then I’ll say no. Guys, he had the most yards that he’s ever had in a game, so that was encouraging. My favorite catch is the one he went up in between two defenders, way up high and caught the ball. Great hands. As I always said, I hope he plays. Now you guys know why I was hoping he plays. He is a legitimate No. 1 receiver.

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