Rhodes prepares for the tackle
About an hour after today's practice, Kerry Rhodes returned to his locker following a workout and was surrounded by cameras, microphones and inquiring minds. Rhodes, the Jets' fifth-year safety, was immediately asked about police investigating a woman's allegation that she was raped by two men at his Morristown home last weekend.
"It's a pending legal matter and I can't really talk about it right now," he said, repeating the phrase several times more in response to follow-up questions.
Earlier in the week, Morris County prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi released a statement saying Rhodes was not involved in any wrongdoing.
"Mr. Rhodes is not the target of any criminal investigation," Bianchi said. "Rumors and media reports to the contrary are untrue."
Even before Rex Ryan was asked about Rhodes at his news conference, the first-year head coach tackled the issue head-on.
"First off, I'd like to talk a little bit about Kerry Rhodes and let you guys know I did talk to Kerry," Ryan said. "As the prosecutor's office stated earlier, Kerry Rhodes is not a target of any criminal investigation. Any questions regarding this matter or anything close to it, I'm just going to refer back to the prosecutor's office."
Rhodes said he was "very happy" about Bianchi's statement and that the allegation has not been a distraction. But he naturally doesn't enjoy seeing his name attached to anything so negative.
"You never want your name to come up in anything, in any situation," he said. "That can be a damper. But other than that I can't really think about it."
Throughout his NFL career, Rhodes, 26, has been a model citizen. The Jets' fourth-round pick out of Louisville in 2005 established the R.H.O.D.E.S. Foundation — the Reaffirming Hopes of Dream Endearing Scholars Foundation — in 2006. Earlier this month, he teamed up with Houston Texans DL Amobi Okoye, a fellow Cardinals product, to host the second annual Kentucky Derby Youth Football Camp and Celebrity Basketball Game.
"You always want to have a positive image of how you take care of yourself and how you go about your life and your own endeavors," Rhodes said today.
While the Jets plan to wreck havoc all over the field in 2009, that is not the expectation for the players off the field.
"I'm proud of all our players," Ryan said. "Are they going to be treated like men? Absolutely."
Inside linebacker David Harris missed almost the entire workout after absorbing a vicious helmet-to-face hit from Jim Leonhard. The unfortunate incident came during a punt drill as Harris was supposed to be just an innocent spectator on the sideline. When a punt went astray and Leonhard charged hard toward the sideline to catch the ball, Harris looked to grab it and was simultaneously hit hard by Leonhard's hat.
"Jimmy ran full speed, and there was a collision there. But [Harris is] going to do fine," Ryan said. "He's here. I just saw him. I did tell him, 'You're not a handsome guy anyway.' A scary thing but he's doing fine."
Sanchez Progress Report
This new-look Jets defense is not making it easy on the team's prized rookie quarterback. In addition to the consistent verbal barbs, the Green & White defenders are showcasing their multiple exotic looks for young Mark Sanchez.
"I think he's getting more confident. I think the guys feel good about him," Ryan said of the Southern Cal product. "They certainly harass him enough and all that kind of stuff. [Defensive coordinator Mike] Pettine and all of his gang over there, they're definitely trying to make it difficult on this guy. It's not 'Hey, look, you're going to get Cover-3, you're going to get Cover-2' and baby steps. They're throwing him right to the wolves, and I like the way he's responding."
In Ryan's mind, there is no sense coddling the rook. He's a pro now and expectations are high.
"You can't tell that other team, 'Can you just play Cover-3, can you just play this and that?' So let's go. College is over. He's going to have to pick it up," the coach said. "I think the next thing we'll have to do is get him more of a sense of urgency before the ball is snapped because he certainly has it when he gets the ball in his hands. But start coming out there, it's like OK, let's speed it up a little bit. I know Schotty has been on him quite a bit about speeding that tempo up and things."