Coach's Wednesday News Conference

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Transcript of Jets head coach Eric Mangini's news conference before Wednesday's midday practice:    

Erik Ainge and Jesse Chatman, we put both of those guys on IR. We signed Marcus Mason from the Baltimore practice squad. He's a running back. We promoted James Ihedigbo [from the practice squad] to the active roster. We signed Brandon Renkart to the practice squad. Jason Trusnik is going to start practicing today, part of his PUP window. Damien Woody will be excused today for personal reasons.

Our players of the week from last week, offensively was LC [Laveranues Coles], defensively Kerry Rhodes. On special teams we had two, Leon Washington, but Jesse Chatman played a really good game as well, so they shared that one. Our practice player of the week was Rob Turner.

In terms of Buffalo, they are the division leader. They are undefeated at home. We've struggled with them in the recent past.

Offensively, they are very effective running the ball. They are very consistent running the ball. They have a big offensive line and are efficient in the passing game. [Trent] Edwards has a high quarterback rating and protects the football, doesn't have very many interceptions. They can create explosive plays with Lee Evans on the vertical ball or Roscoe Parrish on a catch-and-run. That creates some problems. They have quite a few different formations and personnel groups that we need to be able to adjust to and play.

Defensively, it is a high-motor team. It's an intense team. They get a lot of people to the ball. They do a good job of stopping the run. They've created the fourth-most negative plays for anybody in the NFL. They are creating those a lot of different ways. They have added some key additions. They are a little bit bigger in the middle with [Marcus] Stroud.

They've presented challenges for us in the past and they've presented challenges for everyone they've played this year. I don't anticipate on that being any different. Another thing that they've expanded on is their pressure package, so them being able to rush through that or just with their four-man rush, it's a nice complement to what they've been doing.

On teams, it comes down to their kickers and their returners. They have two outstanding kickers and three outstanding returners. [Leodis] McKelvin filled in for [Terrence] McGee on kickoff returns, but they can throw McGee back there at any time and he can make something out of nothing. Parrish is tough to catch. He has short-area quickness, he has excellent burst and very good speed. Their coverage units are always solid and well coached. I really like the things that they do on teams.

On LB Jason Trusnik…

He's going to start practicing today. We have a window of 21 days to either activate him or keep him down, that clock starts today.

On RB Marcus Mason…

He's a guy that we looked at right at the end of training camp where you have that period where you can claim some guys. We didn't put the claim in at that point, knowing that Jesse would be back after four games. We liked a lot of the things that he had done in the preseason.

He led the NFL in rushing in the preseason. He played on multiple special teams. There were a lot of positive things on tape that we liked. We liked him at that point. This was an opportunity to bring him here and get to know him, put him in our system, see what he can do on teams and see what he can do as a running back.

On if keeping the crowd quiet will help minimize Buffalo's defensive tempo…

It doesn't matter where they're playing. They play the same way defensively. They get a lot of hats to the ball. They feed off the energy in Buffalo. It's a loud place. The fans are into it, but wherever they are, that's stylistically what they do. They rotate the defensive lineman through. There's just a lot of blue around the football on most plays.

On if he has considered not playing S Eric Smith even if he is medically cleared…

We have an extensive process in place. I am very confident with the competency of our doctors. The point I was stressing last week as well is we're going to err on the side of safety. Last week, when we were in that situation, we did take him out and didn't take a chance with it. I believe in the doctors. They know a lot more than I'll ever know. I have faith in what they do.

On if Smith will play against the Bills…

It's Wednesday so we'll go through the week. That's why we spend so much time and have hired the people that we've hired. It's their expertise, it's their judgment. I don't have the background to make that decision.

On if he finds it odd that Smith has been cleared to play…

I don't have a medical background. I defer to [the doctors] on those decisions. That's the best way to do it.

On what his reaction would be if a doctor clears a player to play and the player does not feel ready to play…

We wouldn't put the player in. We're not going to force someone who feels they're at risk of injury to play. It's never that type of process where it's one-sided: "We say this. You say that. Your feedback's not important." It's more of a cooperative process. The one thing I really like about our approach and our guys, they are very much a part of the process. They give good feedback and we take that feedback and make sure that collectively we're making good decisions.

On the injury status of LB David Harris and TE Chris Baker…

That whole group of guys, except for Ainge and Chatman, we want to see where they are throughout the course of the week. Baker was really a scratch that nobody anticipated, us or him. That to me is a really good example of the injury situation, where you think a guy is all set. You do everything you can. You go through the whole process and then he can't go.

On the flip side, too, where guys look like there's no chance of going and then they can go. It's so different from person to person, injury to injury. It's hard to say definitively early in the week what a guy is going to be, or in that situation, it was gameday scratch after he had pads.

On Harris' injury…

Groin.

On if Smith could have sustained a third concussion last week against Kansas City…

In terms of the feedback that I've gotten, that's not the case.

On if he feels the game against Buffalo is a must-win…

No. You always stress to the team that no matter who you're playing, if you go into a game with any type of expectation — this should be a blowout, this should be easy, this is going to be impossible, any of those things. Regardless of what's being said externally, if you buy into that, if you look at that, if you think about that, you lose track of what's important.

It happens all the time. Teams that are favored to win, don't. Teams that aren't favored to win, do. None of that stuff matters. All that matters is what we do and how we play on that day. If you get caught up in anything else, then you're just paddling upstream at that point.

On Ainge's injury…

It's very similar to Chansi [Stuckey]'s situation where it was a preexisting injury that really had not been an issue. Like Chansi, he had the preexisting injury coming out of the draft but had gone through camp, had gone through all of those things, didn't look like there's a problem, but then it can quickly become a problem. Chansi is the best comparison. It started to become a problem last week. Erik was getting a few more reps and we had it looked at. Now we need to put him on the shelf.

On how Ainge's injury occurred…

He actually does get a few reps in practice. He is on the Brett Ratliff program of sometimes he plays receiver, sometimes he plays quarterback, he's played a little safety. He's that utility guy. You can't just come here, eat lunch and go home [smiles].

On if he feels Ainge has learned a lot during his rookie season…

Yes. I definitely do. I really feel that what he does from now on is just as important as what he did while he was active. Again, looking at Chansi's development, he didn't play but he worked and he worked and he worked. Now he comes out and he's been very productive in the passing game and he's caught touchdowns. It's not like he's starting over again. It's not like he's a rookie. He's much more comfortable. He's much more knowledgeable and he was much more prepared to play.

Erik has that same opportunity that Chansi had. He actually had more time on the field and more work with the team, and now what do you do with this period of IR.

On if Ainge will continue to attend the quarterback meetings…

Oh, yeah. He'll be responsible for all of the information and all of the questions, all of the same things he was doing. None of those guys get out of it. When I go around and ask questions, it's practice squad, it's IR, it's starters, backups, because he has to prepare at that level. Otherwise, we are just killing time.

On the contingency plan if TE Chris Baker can't play Sunday…

At this point, we are able to do a few more things in terms of preparation. Dustin [Keller] played a lot more reps last week and I'm not afraid to play Dustin more than he has to this point. He's made good progress, so I would see him taking more of a role as the true tight end, getting involved with more of those plays than maybe he has in the past, where maybe it was Bubba [Franks], Chris and him. You had three guys to choose from.

Our secret weapon, Robert Turner, will get a few reps there. Word is out on him now so I don't know if we are going to be able to throw deep to him [smiles]. Those are the two main things. We looked at tight ends that were available and didn't feel there was someone that could come in this week and really help us.

On if LS James Dearth is an option at TE…

James has played tight end. He can do some things and he has done some things for us in the past. He has run routes for us and things like that. The snapper position is one of those things where you don't really miss it until it's gone and then you really, really miss it. You've got to weigh the cost/risk.

On if RB Leon Washington is deserving of more time on offense after his performance vs. Kansas City…

Kansas City didn't really spark that with me. He's been really good for a while. It's not a function of not trying to get him the ball. We really worked to get him as our punt returner. He's made tons of progress there. Kick returner, he's done a great job there. Played close to 35 percent of the offensive snaps last week.

He's definitely an explosive guy. You'd love to get him the ball as much as possible, but there are some other guys that we feel really good about as well. We want that balance and being able to throw down the field, come back, run the trap with him, put Thomas [Jones] in, run or pass, put [Dustin] Keller in, run or pass.

On if he has met with QB Brett Favre to discuss his interceptions…

We usually do that once a week. We usually get together on Tuesdays, we visit. We did yesterday. Through the course of the week, I'll talk to him: "What do you like? What don't you like? Anything that you want to add? Thoughts?" I do that. The offensive staff does that. He's very involved in shaping the game plan. He's very involved in shaping the openers. That won't change.

I stressed to the group how important it was that we continue to improve our protection and that's not just the offensive line, tight ends and running backs. It's receivers running better routes, whether it's a sight-adjust, whether it's the actual routes we're running. All of that has to improve. To some degree with Brett, he has to know when to throw it away, just get rid of it. Sometimes there's nothing there and that's OK, throw it away.

The interceptions, looking at the plays and looking at the things that we can do to solidify reads, progressions, anything that we can improve from a playcalling perspective, from a design perspective, same thing there. Stressing calculated risks and reinforcing to the receivers – if that ball has a chance to be intercepted, you better do what you have to do to make sure that it doesn't, and if it does, you'd better become a defensive player and make the tackle.

On if he looked at video with Favre of the interceptions vs. Kansas City…

No, it's not one formula. Sometimes we'll talk about plays, some things that he ran in Green Bay that he really liked. Maybe it's a variation that we have here. Are there things that we can adjust on those, on what we currently have, to make that more efficient? Some of it was installing new plays or emphasizing new plays that we have gotten away from. It's a big-picture sort of overview of that, and then you have to put it in the context of the next opponent and see what works.

On if it is difficult as a coach to minimize the attribute that has made Favre great over the years…

You talk through it. You just stress: Don't hit on 20. Sometimes it's OK to stay and see what the dealer has. You're not trying to reel him in and trying to coach him out of being a good player. You're just trying to reinforce that everything needs to be a calculated risk.

On if some of Favre's interceptions were a result of "hitting on 20"...

I don't know. I haven't played the position. He's gotten 21 when he's hit on 20 in the past. Sometimes, not being a big gambler, but I'm sure you sense that card is what you need.

On if Favre is taking chances that he has not taken in the past…

I don't think that he's become anybody besides who he's been. Like I've stressed in the past, there's tremendous upsides and sometimes there's some plays that you want to have back. It's all trying to find the balance between the two and make sure that you're maximizing the upside and trying to minimize the downside. He's very open to that. We're all open to moving forward.

I never view that as being one person's issue. The quarterback gets credit for it just like the offensive line gets credit for sacks given up. It never comes down to that one thing. There are so many other elements: Was the route run correctly? Did the guy cut it short? Did the guy do everything he could to prevent it from happening? Was there pressure that a guy's arm gets hit at the last minute? All of those things come into play, but the numbers stick with the guy who had the ball last.

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