Coach's Saturday Conference Call

Transcript of head coach Eric Mangini's conference call with beat reporters Saturday evening:    

I just want to start by reiterating, as the head coach, this is the toughest time of the year. You have a group of guys that have worked very hard; some through the off-season, some of them since I got here, and we've gone through a long process with the off-season, training camp. Unfortunately, you are only able to keep 53 of them. Some are able to go to the practice squad, but you're not sure whether or not they'll make it to the practice squad, and it's hard. It's hard to tell them that you had to make difficult choices, but everybody understands that that's what we have to do.

It was a difficult process. I thought we had some really good candidates for all the different spots. The guys that aren't going to be here, I can't thank them enough for what they've done and how hard they've worked. I wish them nothing but the best as we move forward.

On the suspension of RB Jesse Chatman…

It's always disappointing. It's the program that the league has set up, and it's something that I understand and Jesse understands the consequences of. I think that Jesse has had a very good training camp and really punctuated it with his game against the Eagles. He's disappointed and so am I. I look forward to him being able to come back and help the team and contribute.

On when the team was informed of the suspension…

We went through the league process, and they notified us. All the specific details are confidential. There really is not a lot that I can add in terms of details on this. All I can do is reiterate what I said and that is we're disappointed. On the same token, Jesse's done a good job, and we look forward to having him back.

On if the Jets will look to sign another back to help carry the load…

We'll gauge it week in and week out. Tony Richardson has run the ball in the past. We have used Brad Smith back there as well, so we'll definitely have alternatives in place and a plan of action should we lose two running backs in any given game.

On his thoughts on keeping four quarterbacks…

All four guys [Brett Favre, Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff and Erik Ainge] have done positive things. I like all four guys. It's such a vital position. If things were to change at some point, they would change. But I really have no expectations of them changing in the near future.

On keeping TE Bubba Franks…

I have competed against Bubba in the past from the defensive side. He is an excellent red-area tight end. I think he's a good run-blocking tight end. I think he also does good things in the passing game as well. You know there were some drops in there, but he's been a very reliable receiver. I also like the intangibles that he brings. He is an excellent player in the locker room, in the classroom and at practice. All those things are extremely positive.

On if Chatman will be welcomed back to the team and the coach's emotions…

I'm disappointed. He's disappointed. But, at the same time, I respect the program that the league has in place, and it's very clear. If you are in violation, there are consequences. My experience with Jesse since he's been a New York Jet has been extremely positive. He has done everything we've asked him to do. He has contributed as an offensive player, he has contributed on special teams. I think he's got good ability as a runner and a receiver out of the backfield.

There are a lot of things that I really like about the player and the person. It's something that has happened and is going to affect the team and us for four games, and you never want to see that, but that's where we are.

On if Chatman has a roster spot after his suspension is lifted…

Yes, he does. Had the suspension not gone through, he would be on the 53-man roster. In terms of evaluating him as player and a contributor, I think that he earned that spot.

On if Chatman's performance in training camp was aided by controlled substances…

I can't get into the details of what the infraction was. That is confidential. But I'm confident that we have a fair assessment of his ability and what he can contribute to the team. I'm comfortable with that.

On LB Marques Murrell making the 53- man roster…

With Marques, he's got a great motor and he's got great inherent toughness. He is not a finished product, he is not polished at this point, but he will get better. When you have a motor like he does and some of the other natural ability that he does ...

When you look at him when we initially got him, he went from just like Kenwin [Cummings], a guy who only had his hand in the dirt, to a linebacker. He's gotten better as a linebacker. He still has his ability as a down lineman in sub personnel. This whole transition is a learning process. Whether you are Vernon Gholston, Cummings, Murrell, I've seen enough of those guys over time with the right attributes develop into pretty good players.

On if Mike Westhoff is returning to the Jets coaching staff…

I will definitely have a definitive update for you guys on Monday.

On releasing LB Matt Chatham…

It was difficult. Matt and Hank [Poteat] are both guys that I've had a long relationship with, both here and in New England. I've known them a long time. It was hard. Cuts have been hard. Going through that process, especially when you have history with the player like I did, with Bobby Hamilton last season, it adds something. The decision, as we looked through it, was the best combination of players that we had.

On waiving TE Jason Pociask…

Jason did a good job. He is a guy that had injuries his first year, had some opportunities last year, and then this year as well. And with Bubba, with Dustin [Keller] and Chris [Baker] there, there was a lot of competition at that spot. When we decide to keep some extra receivers and extra quarterbacks, it's more and more difficult to have multiple offensive positions with extra players. We actually kept [one more] offensive lineman than we did last year. As I talk about, especially during the latter parts of camp, you always compete against other positions as well.

On keeping Erik Ainge as a fourth quarterback…

I liked him in the draft, one, and then liked what he's done since he's been here. To have the playing time that he had, I thought he showed substantial poise for his first opportunity. That's what I had seen throughout the course of practice. I think he's going to continue to get better with time, with reps, with experience.

On the possibility of adding players over the next few days…

I'd say during this whole 24-hour period, even 48 hours, a lot of guys are suddenly available that weren't available. So with the mindset that this is your 53, you are not really sure who is going be there in terms of the practice squad, what the other teams' cuts are going to be. A lot of things can happen in this time frame.

So right now, this is what I anticipate us going into the season with. But I will say there are a lot of players that have suddenly emerged that weren't available 15 minutes ago, so we'll definitely look through all those players and asses the different spots and compare and contrast and see if there's any other way we can improve the team.

On if keeping four quarterbacks is a luxury…

We've all been through those experiences where — I know Mike [Tannenbaum] has been through it a little bit differently than I have — a few years ago the Jets lost two quarterbacks early on. So when you have players you like at that spot, that's a good situation. Sometimes it's hard to find three that you like. So it's unique. It's different. But all four of them are guys that we like.

On if he is looking to acquire more depth…

I wouldn't say it's always just about depth. Some of it may just that you think a guy is either quicker, not just in their position but on special teams. You think he may be an improvement over the player that you have at the current spot. So I wouldn't say it's necessarily depth. It's more looking at it from multiple angles.

On if he can guarantee Kellen Clemens will be on the roster opening day…

I don't really guarantee. It's not really the business that I'm in. I fully, fully anticipate Clemens being on the roster on opening day unless something earth-shattering happens.

On if Clemens has slid on the depth chart…

There has been no change in terms of where he is on the depth chart.

On if the team is practicing on Monday…

No, we're not going to practice on Monday. The actual practice days will be normal Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. We will not be practicing on Monday.

On practicing on Sunday…

No. This is probably Julie [Mangini]'s favorite weekend of the year because I'm not allowed to go to the building. So I'm in my, I guess you can call it, office at home watching tape here.

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