Mangini: The Practice Squad is a Great Tool

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Nugent accounted for 14 points on Sunday

Following every win, Jets head coach Eric Mangini dishes out player of the week awards to the offense, defense, special teams and – what he views as most important – the practice squad. On Monday, tight end Joe Kowalewski was rewarded for his fine week of practice as he provided the first string defense with high-energy performances throughout the week of preparation.

"It's a crucial role because the better look that they give us, the better feel that they give the guys who are going to play the game as to how their opponent is going to run a route or what the depth is or how they block," Mangini said. "The more you can simulate that, the more familiarity you have going into the game and the better you are to deal with that. As tone-setters and rabbits, it's extremely important." Read below for Mangini's complete press conference transcript

New York Jets' Head Coach Eric Mangini, 12.1

Opening Statement…

Today will be a standard Friday for us. We will run the two-minute drill, review the second down package, review some of the things that we need to clean up from not just yesterday but Wednesday. It will be a typical day for us across the board.

On how the team is preparing to possibly play in snow…

We've tried to take advantage of the elements each time they have presented themselves. Last Thursday, Thanksgiving, was pretty cold and rainy. It's different than snow obviously, but we need to have that ability to adjust to whatever the elements are.

I showed a clip this morning of the Ice Bowl, just to let them see. It had a couple different purposes. It was a little bit to educate the young guys on the history of Lambeau Field, a little bit to demystify Lambeau Field, and there's a great part at the end there where they are talking about how teams that want to be successful need to be able to function regardless of what the elements are and to be able to block those out and execute effectively. That was coming from the players who had played in that game. I thought it had a good correlation.

On Florida native Leon Washington facing snow…

He's gotten a taste of what's to come, and there's a cold front moving in here from what I understand, so he'll get a little bit more familiar with how things operate up here.

On Hank Poteat at the cornerback position…

One of the things I like about Hank is that he always works on doing it the right way. If he's supposed to have outside leverage, he's going to have outside leverage. If he's supposed to be playing high to low, that's what he's going to do, and he's very consistent in trying to execute the things that we ask him to execute. And I've always liked that. I like his toughness. He's very competitive and he's a really good person on top of all that.

I think it's like any other spot. As someone earns that spot, and takes control of it, then it will be theirs. But each week, really with every spot, there is opportunity to maintain the position and there's opportunity to gain the position and I think that's what makes the weeks that much more fun for everybody.

On Tim Dwight…

Tim was another guy I was familiar with from New England and got to know Tim, him being on the offensive side and me being on the defensive side, are usually talked more during pre-practice. I always admired the way that he approached things. When he was in San Diego, I remember they ran a flare screen to him, he motioned, went into the backfield, caught it on the other side and killed us for a third down conversion. I was a little scarred by that. The way he's always played, it's just been impressive. Then when Mike Devlin was in college recruiting Tim and Tim came for a visit, he insisted that they open the gym up at 6 am because he needed to get his workout in prior to the recruiting visit. He's just wired in a very impressive way.

On Dwight being well suited for special teams…

He's fearless, and everything he does is similar to what I talked about with Joe Kowalewski. He's got that high motor that doesn't stop.

On Joe Kowalewski…

Joe is a great example of someone who has really taken advantage of opportunities. He came in as a tryout player and he displaced someone who had a contract that weekend. Then he went through training camp and he was able to get a spot on the practice squad, and he just keeps working at it. I think the practice squad is a great tool, not just because it helps us function week-in and week-out, but it allows you to give those players that may need it some extra time, some extra work and some extra development. I've seen a lot of guys who have been on and off practice squads end up having great careers. I know we've talked quite a bit about Keenan McCardell and how in Cleveland he was cut and brought back and cut and brought back. He's had a pretty good showing.

On Kowalewski …

What I like about him is, I asked him a couple questions the other day in a meeting about what we are doing in the game plan, and he answered it immediately. That's what you're looking for. I think the term practice squad is a little bit of an unfair label. I think it's more of a developmental group and that's how we view it. Players that are going to help us function but are also developing on a day-to-day basis to hopefully help us and contribute in games at some point.

On the Practice Player of the Week Award being the most important…

It's a crucial role, because the better look that they give us, the better feel that they give the guys who are going to play the game as to how their opponent is going to run a route or what the depth is or how they block. The more you can simulate that, the more familiarity you have going into the game, the better you are to deal with that. As tone-setters and rabbits, it's extremely important.

On the leaving the practice players behind come game time…

You would love to be able to take everybody and it's the same thing cutting from 53-to-45. There are always those guys that have worked extremely hard and gotten ready and you can't take them all. It's difficult. You would love to be able to play everybody and take everybody and reward their hard work and give them a role. But unfortunately, this is the system that we work in. I think it's difficult and I think that it's also a great opportunity. It has positives and negatives.

On the way practice squad players are viewed…

We view every player the same way. All the resources that we have available are available for everybody, whether it's player development, helping them in the rest of their life or helping them with the things off the field. It could be nutrition, whatever the different tools that we have, everybody is viewed the same way, and they are an important part of our team. We're looking for them to develop and grow and create a role for themselves. There's no separation based on whatever your distinction is.

On the practice squad players motivating the 53-man roster…

I think any time you have "PHD"s (poor, hungry, driven) around, it's motivating. When you're poor, hungry and driven, you've got a high level of motivation. You're looking to get to the next level and to get to the next level, you've got to displace someone who is on that level. Competition is healthy, it's positive, and we target guys that have extremely high motors and extremely high intrinsic motivation.

On the run game this weekend…

The key thing is how each team deals with the weather. You have a game plan going in and sometimes that definitely can be affected by the elements. A lot of times you have to be able to block out the elements in order to execute the game plan, as opposed to dramatically change the game plan week-in and week-out based on the elements. Running the football is important every week, and it's something that we're trying to improve daily, just like stopping the run is. It's always a huge part of the game both ways. But that being said, we could be run 50 times, we could throw 60 times. Whatever the case may be.

On the unavoidable weather elements…

That is why it's so important to when you get those chances to practice in that situation, whether it's the driving wind that we faced in Buffalo or the extreme heat from training camp which you can get there late in the season in Miami or the cold. The more experience you have with the wet football, the hard football, the slippery surfaces; the heat and the need to hydrate, all that stuff. As much experience as you can get the easier it is when you actually face those elements.

On how the weather will affect the kicking game…

Mike Nugent probably has decent experience playing where he played (Ohio State). There's quite a bit of snow there. In Victoria, Australia (where punter Ben Graham is from), there is not a lot of snow. It is pretty nice, actually. It can get a little bit cold but overall not a bad place to live. Again, Ben has had the experience of some cold weather games, and he has been kicking in the rain and with the slippery ball and all those things. There will be some adjustments he has to make. The length of the field goals may change, which hash marks, stuff like that. We'll need to evaluate that when we get up there to really get a gauge on it.

On field position determining kicking decisions in Green Bay…

I think that always comes into play depending on how effectively you think you can kick the field goal. Does it change it from three down to four down territory? With punts, whether you think you can really put it inside the four-yard line. Again, is it three downs? Four downs? The play-calling, how conservative you need to be based on field goal opportunity. So it's not just the kicking game, but it's the decisions that correspond to making a choice to kick or not kick.

Friday Injury ReportJets
Questionable: FB B.J. Askew (foot), CB David Barrett (hip), WR Tim Dwight (thigh), RB Cedric Houston (knee), DL Rashad Moore (hand), DB Eric Smith & LB Bryan Thomas (shoulder)
*Probable: *RB Kevan Barlow (calf), *LB Matt Chatham (foot), *WR Jerricho Cotchery (chest), *CB Andre Dyson (neck), *OL Pete Kendall (knee), *WR Justin McCareins (foot), *QB Chad Pennington (calf) & *DL Dewayne Robertson (foot)

PackersDoubtful: T Mark Tauscher (groin)
Questionable: S Nick Collins (hamstring), *LB Nick Barnett (hand), TE David Martin (ribs) & *RB P.J. Pope (hamstring) & *LB Ben Taylor (hamstring)
*
Probable: **T Chad Clifton (hamstring), *QB Brett Favre (right elbow), *RB Ahman Green (knee), & *CB Charles Woodson (shoulder)
*Denotes players who practiced

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