Coach Mangini's Saturday News Conference

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Transcript of head coach Eric Mangini's news conference with members of the New York Jets media before Saturday's afternoon training camp practice:      

We just have one piece of housekeeping. We have signed linebacker Jerry Mackey.

We gave the players most of the day off yesterday and that was in response to what I thought was a really good day of work Thursday. We got a lot done in the morning after we went a little bit long and we got a lot done in the evening. The evening practice was great because of all the situational things that came up that all come up during the normal course of a game that aren't scripted, so I was really pleased with that.

Yesterday, we came in, got together at Hofstra, had somewhat of a cookout there, and then Jerry Rice came and spoke to the team. I've always admired Jerry Rice as a player and as a person. In talking to him prior to him speaking, he was just so impressive — his approach to the game, the legendary hill he used to run up and his preparation to get ready for the season. He said he always wanted to come to training camp in the best shape of his life, and each year he'd redefine what the best shape of his life was. He also looked forward to camp. Whether it was camp or the season, he'd use that to get into even better shape so he could wear down his opponent in the fourth quarter. He knew he'd have the edge in the fourth quarter because of his superior conditioning.

He actually used a boxing analogy, which we all appreciated. In terms of his preparation, he just talked about how he'd study the opponent and visualize the game the night before he played it and see the different scenarios, so when he got into the game he knew exactly what was going to happen, so everything slowed down for him.

The other thing I really liked was his selflessness. It did not matter how many accolades he won; didn't matter how many Super Bowls he won; he'd sit in on all the special teams meetings just so those guys knew how important field position was. He wasn't going to play on special teams, but he wanted guys to know how important field position was and how important their role was to the team.

Just an impressive guy, and I shared with him our core values [smart, tough, hard-working, selfless, competitive, football is important to you], and I really felt a strong connection between the values and who he was and what he represented as a professional football player and a contestant on "Dancing With the Stars" [joking]. Plus the guy had over 13 miles of receiving yards. It's incredible.

With that I'll open it up to questions.

On the process of selecting Rice as a guest speaker …

I tried to reach out to different people in the off-season, whether in this industry, in this game or in other games. Last year we had Jim Calhoun [UConn men's basketball coach] come speak. We've had Joe Ehrman [minister/former football player], Teddy [Atlas, boxing trainer] and Dan O'Brien [former Olympian]. I just believe in the value of letting the players hear how these successful people became successful or how their teams became successful, because the ingredients are really the same regardless of whether it's football, baseball, basketball, hockey, or whether you're at Johnson & Johnson. It's all the same core characteristics.

On whether he has Rice on speed dial in his cellphone ...

I don't have a "top five" in my cellphone. Actually Erin [O'Brien, assistant to the head coach] had worked with the Raiders, so she had known Jerry and she was able to make the connection. He was great. He flew in to just do that. I really appreciate it.

On whether it's more effective having a successful football player address the team …

It's always valuable for the players to see people that were involved in their sport, but I also believe if you have achieved a level of excellence in whatever sport or whatever field you've chosen, then there are a lot of things that you had to do right. There are consistent themes among those successful teams and those successful people that we can learn from and reinforce what we're teaching and seeing every day.

On trying to get Rice to practice with the team …

I tried to get him to practice today. I thought it would be good to have him come run some routes, work with the receivers and work against the defensive backs. He just had some other stuff going on so he couldn't come out today.

On the impact of Rice's speech …

I don't know how you could hear someone like him speak and not take something away from it because of what he's done and who he is, and not just the multiple Super Bowls and the multiple personal achievements. He said he didn't take a vacation for 10 years because when he got through [with the season], he forgot about the last year and was moving on to the next year, which I agree with 100 percent.

On his favorite football memory of Rice …

There's so many plays that he made, so one particular one, probably not. When there's so many, it's easy to appreciate all of them.

On whether any of the younger players were star-struck when they met Rice …

I didn't ask them about that, but hopefully they understood the value of his words and really appreciated the value of his words.

On how the players responded to having Rice as a guest speaker …

Actually, after he spoke, we then watched a movie. There wasn't a lot of conversation. But after the movie, a lot of guys went and spoke with Jerry and just thanked him.

On whether Rice watched the movie with the team and what the movie was …

Yes. "300." Battle of Thermopylae, 480 B.C.

On fights during training camp …

In training camp you have every opportunity to show someone how tough you are, and hitting someone in the helmet where you could break your hand, it doesn't show anything. It shows how you can't control your emotions and frustrations. You've got every opportunity in the world to get out your aggressions, and if you feel like something wrong was done to you or they pushed you, whatever the case may be, you'll have another chance to line up against that guy. The emotion you want to see is the emotion channeled toward executing the play correctly, the drive, block, whatever the case may be.

On how a fight can affect the evaluation of a player …

You're always evaluating every aspect of the player. The other night we had a personal foul. It would have been third-and-4 on the 4 yard-line and we get a dead-ball foul on [Joe] Kowalewski, and now instead of having a chance to really score a touchdown there, we're pushed back, and it's just ridiculous. It's ridiculous, it's selfish. Any of those penalties are just selfish because it hurts the team. And what do you get, two seconds of satisfaction out of it?

On DT Sione Pouha …

He's done a lot of work in the weightroom. If you look at his body now versus, say, 12 months ago, you'll see the transition he's made in terms of strength and overall body weight distribution. He's gotten leaner. Those things have helped him now as he goes out and works at his position. He's a lot stronger, he's a lot leaner, and I think that's translated well onto the practice field. He did a good job with the off-season program as well. I guess 12 months isn't fair. I'm thinking about more of the previous off-season when I first got here, so whatever that was, 18 months, and I don't know the timeline, but when I first got here to training camp last year, I thought he had done a really good job. And then he maintained that while he wasn't playing and even improved it with another good off-season under his belt. He's got a year in the system, and just because he was rehabbing, he was still studying, working, so that's starting to show up.

On what Pouha brings to the defense …

He's got good size and good strength at the point of attack, and he's improved his hand placement, which is so important for that position. When you combine his strength, his leverage and his size with good hand placement, he's a tough guy to move.

On Dewayne Robertson …

I really liked what Dewayne did last year. Dewayne embraced the learning we had in terms of the two-gap philosophy of the system. Having a guy like Dewayne with the technique, strength and leverage he has, you can go ahead and play the two-gap. Now you've got that quickness, so if you want to stunt him, you want to change that front, you can do it within a series, play to play to play, and they're totally different blocks for the offense. One, it's much more of a stalemate and who can stalemate who and then read off. The other one, you have to deal with speed and that uncertainty is hard. It makes it harder offensively to deal with.

On whether Robertson brings a unique look to the two-gap …

Yes, definitely, because you have to deal with both. He's good at playing that concept, and then he's good at playing the other concepts where you usually either get one or the other, they can only play the 4-3 or they can only play the 3-4. When you get the guys that can do both and do both effectively, you have to prepare for both.

On Robertson being considered an undersized nose tackle in the 3-4 system …

When you watch the tape, there's not a lot of times where he's getting knocked off. Where he really compensates for that lack of mass is that first-step quickness. He's into the center so quickly that he gets the edge in terms of who has leverage, who has hand placement, so that quickness eliminates or offsets any lack of mass. He's a good-sized man. He's not Ted Washington's size, but he's stout.

On whether there is a correlation between Robertson's progress last season and Sione Pouha's injury …

I have never looked at it in terms of that case. With the way we track the reps, it's really about how many reps and what reps we want to give them, so regardless of who was in that second spot, we would have probably approached it that same way throughout this period and then game by game. I'm not really sure how Sione would have been used, just because we didn't have that option.

On LB Victor Hobson's flexibility in the defense …

Victor did a nice job of playing in the base defense, but he also did a nice job in the sub defense, where he worked some at defensive end and could move around at linebacker. Having Vic on the field with Jonathan [Vilma] — or if you have multiple linebackers, maybe it's Jonathan and [Eric] Barton — in a sub package you can change roles. With B.T. [Bryan Thomas] standing on the other side, you have two outside linebackers, two inside linebackers, and they can all just flip-flop spots, and that gives you flexibility.

On Hobson's performance last season …

He did a good job, and I thought he did a nice job in terms of learning the concept. With him, Jonathan and Kerry [Rhodes] working together, they knew where they had to go. It didn't really matter who went where for us, but it did matter who went where to the opponent, and when you've got guys that can understand the concept and how everybody fits, then it's easy to interchange parts based on protection or scheme.

On Hobson taking a liking to boxing …

He really enjoyed the boxing. You can ask him, but I think there's some interest in trying it at some point. He did the Friday Night Fight that they had in Staten Island with Teddy [Atlas]. He did the prefight tips with A.C. [Anthony Clement], so he really likes it. It's definitely a passion for him.

On the signing of LB Jerry Mackey …

We have roster allocations throughout camp, and every time we think we can change for the better, wherever it is on the depth chart, and get a chance to look at a guy, have him sit in on meetings and work through the program, we're going to do that to try to see whether or not we can improve it. We had a roster spot and we had done work on him, researched him and thought he'd be a good candidate.

On WR Frisman Jackson …

He did a good job with the Browns and different people we talked to had mentioned him, so when we had an opportunity to sign him, we thought we'd do that. He does have really nice size, good strength, and he's working not just at receiver but also with special teams. So to have that combination of size and strength definitely gives him a good chance to make a contribution. But like all the newer guys, he's trying to learn the system, and there's been good days and bad days.

On CB Manny Collins …

Manny was a guy we signed and put him right into the fire Thursday. He did a good job, showed good quickness and competed well. That's a classic example of opportunity knocking. He didn't have the amount of work these other guys had, but he did a nice job of adjusting on the fly and taking advantage of opportunities. You look for that when you first get a guy to see how he is going to respond and what's going to happen when you just sort of throw him into the fire. Now we're working with him to get him up to speed as quickly as we can.

On whether Collins can play nickelback …

We'll have to find out about that. It's so new, and to put him into the nickel part right now would be even more unfair than what we did a couple days ago just because there's corner learning that he's going to have to know, and this is sort of another step, but I'm definitely not opposed to that. We'll try him if he keeps showing up.

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