Coach's Thursday News Conference

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*Transcript of head coach Eric Mangini's news conference with the New York Jets media before Wednesday's OTA practice: *         

I just want to take a couple of seconds to thank all our players and coaches in advance for coming out this weekend. We have our seventh annual charity camp in Hartford. We'll have about 35 different towns represented and five different states. We're anticipating about 800 kids and 128 coaches. The majority of the kids attend for free.

Really the genesis for the [Carmine and Frank Mangini Foundation] was my sister-in-law. What happened is she had a little boy who was coming to her school each morning, second grade, in his pajamas and she told us about it. My brother and I talked about it. We had also seen a lot of good kids in our high school who had made bad decisions because they didn't have a lot of real good opportunities.

At that point we wanted to set up the foundation to try to create opportunities for the kids that we went to school with and to try to create a vehicle to help the little boy that was in my sister-in-law's class, Kelsey.

I remember I sent him to the mall. It was the first time he had ever been to the mall, the first time he had ever seen an escalator. It was the first time he had been in that position. He put on this giant jacket, and was afraid to say it was too big because he thought he might not be able to get it. To me, that stuff shouldn't happen.

Every year I go back to Bulkeley [High School]. Every year I see these kids. Unfortunately, the stories don't get better, they get worse. A little boy last year was late. I asked him why he was late. He had been to the funeral of a friend of his. The child was 15 years old and had been shot in the face and killed.

We've got to find some way to get these kids to pick up books instead of guns. We've got to find them some way to get in the schools instead of, unfortunately, in jails. It's our responsibility.

We have a great platform to do that, to give these kids opportunities, to create these opportunities, to effect change for them.

This is one event the foundation puts on, one I'm very proud of. It started with 250 kids. Julie and I did all the registration ourselves in Massachusetts, typing on Excel late at night. Now it's evolved. There are a lot of people involved, a lot of volunteers. It is a really great day. So I want to thank everybody who's going to be helping out with that.

On how satisfying it is to be able to help others …

It's incredibly satisfying to be able to help out and to be able to effect change. It's something that I learned from my father. He was very involved. He did a lot of work with homeless shelters for men, trying to get those men back on track, give them an opportunity to straighten things out and get back on their feet.

Probably the most dramatic story I remember is when we went to a play at the Harvard Stage Company. We were walking out. There was a homeless man. He gave him his jacket. I was young at the time, but I'll never forget it. We have to give more people jackets. We have to give more kids chances.

On if he checked the weather forecast for Saturday …

It never quite seems to be the perfect day. The first year we did it, it was raining. Of course, it poured. Just thinking about how we're going to proceed was difficult. [Bryan] Cox was there. In his typical way he said, "Look, it's football. Let's go."

At that point it was very easy. It's like, "OK, hot, cold, rainy, windy. Let's go." They love it. He gets them really wet, really muddy when it does rain. Parents I'm sure aren't too fired up. But it's a fun day.

On why Brad Smith did not participate in practice Wednesday …

He's working through some things with his back. It's an ongoing process of rehab. When he's ready to go, he'll be back out there.

On the depth at cornerback …

Justin Miller did well going into last training camp and in the early part of the season. I think David Barrett and Hank [Poteat] both have a lot of experience. I think that's positive. I think Drew Coleman has made some progress. We'll have to see how Dwight [Lowery] does. Some of these other guys are going to get plenty of opportunity to show what they can do. We'll just see how they unfold.

On how Miller is progressing …

We set up a rehab program. We try to do it so that it's enough that they can go through the movement, see how it reacts, and we can see how it reacts. As it's positive, we move forward. It's all very measured, well-monitored. There is a lot of feedback from the player, the doctors and the trainers. We are putting him in the best position to be successful long-term as well as getting him the work he can get.

On if Miller stayed involved with the team while he was rehabbing …

We always try to keep those guys involved. You can't let that time slip away. There's a lot of things that come up during the course of the season that are hard to simulate in training camp, hard to simulate in OTAs, whether it's studying an opposing receiver, doing a breakdown of an opposing quarterback, evaluating the game tape, going through the game planning, taking the tests.

All those things are time-sensitive. There's a lot of information that's given to the players in a very short amount of time. We want everybody to go through that as they go into the next year. They're that much more prepared, ready to compete, ready to be successful.

On what Bryan Thomas did well last year and what he may try to improve this season …

There's some things that I was pleased with. I think he made some strides in the running game. I think he's continuing to evolve as a standup linebacker, getting better in terms of coverage, pass rush. He made some progress in some areas, and in some areas we're continuing to work, on change-of-pace rushes, things along those lines.

That's similar to what we're doing with each guy. We establish their off-season goals and objectives, work with the player on those, then put a plan in place to improve in those areas, those really targeted areas.

On if he has talked to Thomas about the team's off-season moves …

Bryan and I have talked a lot throughout the off-season. We talked during the season as well. It's part of what always happens. There's always a high draft pick at some position, there's always free agents at different positions. You've just got to go out and compete, establish your role and how you're going to contribute.

It's no different for everybody. Year after year, Otis Smith, they'd bring him in, they'd bring them in, he'd beat them out. It's not uncommon. Ty Law, I know he's played with a ton of different guys on the other side. That's kind of the way it is.

On his impressions of Calvin Pace …

He's very fast for a man his size. He's got very good athletic ability and change of direction for someone his size. That was something that you noticed in watching him at Arizona. I drew the parallel between him and Mo Lewis because I always thought that Mo Lewis was a very fluid guy for such a big guy. A lot of times the taller they get, the bigger they get, the stiffer they get. Both those guys are fluid athletes.

On if Thomas has approached the situation as if he is going to work to beat out other players at his position …

That's the approach that every guy needs to take and every guy has to take, especially as you go into OTAs, as you go into training camp, because nobody graduates. There's always another rookie class. There's always another group of free agents. The goal of the organization is to increase the level of competition to get the best 53 and ultimately the best 45. So we're always trying to do that.

That's why one of those core characteristics is competitiveness, because whoever you bring in, you want the highest level of competition. You want guys that aren't going to lose at anything. There's always going to be that next challenge.

On his expectations from Bubba Franks …

Bubba has done a nice job. When you've been in only one system from college, then you come to a new system, it's a new system, it's new people, new coaches — everything is different. He's been very good at studying. He's been very good at setting an example of how to work at practice. I've liked his professionalism.

I have gotten to know Bubba through the course of the free agent process. You do your research. You always want to see that those same things you heard about and that were talked about translate to your facility, to your team. I've been pleased with Bubba's progress and who he's been.

On if he has spoken with Chris Baker …

No, I haven't.

On why there has been a delay …

Well, unfortunately there's too many people that I'm behind on texts and calls. I know he's getting the information daily. It's not anything specific to him. I'm behind on a few things right now.

On why he wanted to acquire in Tony Richardson …

I wanted to bring in a contemporary [laughs]. We graduated high school the same year and could actually relate to the same songs, things like that. It is someone to hang out with personally [smiles].

With Tony, he's one of those guys, you can't find anybody that says a negative thing about the guy. When you last as long as he's lasted, it's because of those things. He's a great example of what it means to be a pro. I like the way that he consistently gets his blocks, consistently executes his assignments. It may not always be blowing someone off the ball, but he's there and it's taken care of. That stuff is important.

Another quality guy on offense, another good example in the locker room, another guy that can add some depth and versatility to the offense I think is always positive.

On whom they consulted about Richardson …

Well, a lot of different people had interaction with him or knew him. He's been around quite some time. Just between the different people either I talked to, Mike [Tannenbaum] talked to, JoJo [Wooden] talked to, the coaches who knew him. It was all pretty much the same recommendation.

On if there was one particular person they wanted to hear from …

I was looking hard for someone that wouldn't say something nice about him — and I couldn't — just for some balance.

On the benefits of having a versatile fullback …

You love those backs that can play fullback, can go to tailback, and can play on special teams. Now when you're doing the 45-man roster, you look, you may have to be a little bit lighter on running backs, you have to have a plan just in case something catastrophic happens and you don't have any more depth there.

So you're constantly trying to layer the 45-man roster with versatility to deal with the different contingencies. Inevitably, it comes up and you want to have something in place.

On if the classic fullback is a dying breed …

Yeah, it seems that a lot of college offenses are going to more spread-type offenses, one-back systems. It's even hard to get a lot of tight ends that are in-line now in college football. They tend to be flexed out, they tend to be borderline receivers. Like the fullback, that just seems to be the way it's going. It will probably cycle back, like most things do.

On Richardson's effectiveness as a blocker …

I thought he was very effective in watching him on tape. As I said, it's not always what you may think of as the classic fullback where it's just huge collision after huge collision. But it's very effective, opening a lot of holes. He has opened a lot of holes for guys over the years.

On if he thinks Franks can get back to where he was …

I think the way that Bubba is working, the way he's adjusting, that's going to take time. We'll have to see how that goes. But he's been effective in the red area here. I mean, granted, it's OTAs, it's limited, there's new things happening. That's something that's always been a strength of his. It looks like it will continue to be.

But yet you have to see the guy in the system, in pads, how all that works out. But I know that in terms of his work ethic, the things he can control, the things that he's doing to put himself in a position to be successful, those have all been really positive.

On if he has been able to work with the new defensive helmet communication systems yet …

We haven't done much with that so far. I don't really want to do much with it early on. I think it's important that everybody knows the signals, everybody's used to that format, because at some point the helmet is going to go down, the guy who is wearing it, it's going to have to come out.

You'd much rather the helmet be a bonus as opposed to the helmet be the thing that everybody relies on, and then it goes down and you're scrambling to get the signal. I like kind of operating old-fashioned initially, then we'll introduce it once we have it down.

On if David Harris will be wearing the helmet …

He'll definitely be a candidate. You're looking for a guy that's going to be on the field all three downs. It could be a safety. Somebody like Kerry Rhodes could possibly wear it.

On if there are two helmets …

It's one on the field at a time. If that person goes down, I think it's in a case where you have to break the glass, do the code [smiles].

Are there certain combinations …

You have to have two keys [smiles]. Then we're going to go through the process of, if that person goes down, what's the function? We'll do all that during the preseason. I'd much rather start the old-fashioned way, plan that way, and then see what happens.

On if he likes that rule …

I think it's great in terms of the speed with which you can get things in. If it comes down to a no-huddle or hurryup-type situation, that could be positive as well. A little of it is I'm not sure how it's going to be used, how offenses are going to react. Some of that is going to be a feeling-out process.

On if Baker's number of catches are being held against him …

Well, Chris' numbers, they've gone up both years I've been here. They've gone up substantially since I've been here. I don't think it's a function of blocking more, being able to go out more. I think it's a function of just running the offense. That's what we're always trying to do.

But I've been pleased with the progress Chris has made in the passing game. Like I said, I forget what it was before I got here, but it's been pretty substantial since I've been here.

On why James Dearth did not participate in practice last week …

He's rehabbing something. But he's moving forward. He's participating similar to the way Justin Miller is. It's measured, it's part of a program. That's what we'll keep doing with him, too. He was in yesterday. He'll probably be in today. But it's systematic.

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