REX: Bengals Will Be a Great Test for Us

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's midday news conference following the Jets' Wednesday morning training camp practice at SUNY Cortland:

There's not a whole lot to say. It was a good practice today, the weather was great. I don't know if you noticed or not, but I had to pull Mark [Sanchez] out of the first-team reps when we were doing that blitz pickup because he was 4-for-4 and I had to give that defense a chance over there because the offense was rolling. That's about as good a blitz pickup as we've had since I've been here. The guys did a great job and it was good to get Nick [Mangold] back, really heading up that offensive line, so that was good to see.

I like the way our guys competed. It looked like they got the message. Guys did a great job protecting each other and I'm excited to see how we play against Cincinnati. That's going to be a great test. Cincinnati is a playoff team with a lot of young talent and Marvin [Lewis] does a great job over there, so I think that's going to be a good test for us.

On how much the starters will play against Cincinnati…

I think the starters will play, give or take, probably a quarter of the game. We could extend that or some could get less. You generally don't want to extend your defense or some guys more than 15 plays, as a rough number. Again we'll see how it goes, but generally that's the plan.

On the first-string offensive line…

I think it's good. This group has worked together before for quite a bit now, for this particular group I think three years minus the right tackle. Wayne Hunter, we'll see if he can go or not. I hope he can but I'm not sure because he wasn't able to go today, he had some low-back tightness. But if he can't, a young guy like Austin Howard will step in and seems to be doing a good job. It'll be good.

On who won't play against Cincinnati…

Yeah, [Santonio] Holmes won't play and [Jeremy] Kerley won't play, as well as a couple of other ones. I think Sione [Po'uha] won't play. Unless I'm forgetting someone, that's pretty much it for the guys that I know won't play.

On WR Patrick Turner…

Yeah, Patrick is smart, he's durable. Sometimes in the National Football League, durability is as important as athletic ability and we've said that and it's the truth because you're almost never completely healthy in this league. You've got some bumps, bruises and everything else. The only time you probably don't is the first day of camp. He's good and continues to make plays. Like I said, he's a smart, durable and dependable guy.

On how happy he is with the defense…

I'm happy with our defense. I don't think it's a surprise. I think it's hard to pick a weakness on that defense. As Bill Walsh used to say, in a line I use with [Mike] Tannenbaum all the time, it takes 11 good players on defense. Sometimes you don't have to have 11 good players on offense because you can control who gets the ball and how your protection is and all that, but you need 11 good ones on defense because if you don't, then that opponent will expose you. I think it's hard to find that out there now.

On CB Antonio Cromartie's performance so far…

Oh yeah, absolutely, I think Cromartie has picked his play up. Again, it's not where is he picking it up from — he's pretty darn good — but can he move into that elite category of corners. He seems to be working in that direction.

On how much Tim Tebow will play against Cincinnati…

Yeah, I'm not sure. I think we'll see how Tony [Sparano] uses him. Generally, the twos' group gets extended and sometimes they play a half, or two quarters, so we'll see if that's in Tony's plan or not. Wildcat is something that Cincinnati needs to prepare for right now.

On not wanting Tebow to take as many reps as a normal backup quarterback on Friday…

No, I don't think so. I think with us, it's a new offense and I think everybody needs reps. Will we extend the first offense more than a quarter? We'll see. I think Tim and everybody else needs the opportunity to go against live competition. I think that's where he excels.

On his conversation with Tebow about the touchdown pass to Patrick Turner …

I don't remember the conversation [laughs]. That time he threw it, so you can live with a guy throwing it, but he can't live with a guy running it in there. Actually, it was the same to him, the coverage we saw, but it was actually a different blitz. I'm not so sure he gets away from Bart Scott there.

On who he is most excited to see play in the game…

I think it's hard to say because I'm excited to be looking at all of the guys. It's a new offense for us so I'm excited to see where that is right now, where we're at. Also with the defense. I hate to say that I'm singling out this person or that person because I'm really excited to see them all play,. I really am.

On what he has seen from the running game during training camp…

I like where they're at. I like where our entire backfield is. I think John Conner is doing a good job at fullback as well. Terrance [Ganaway] had the hamstring issues and we've got one guy that has never been out there so I don't know what he looks like.

All of those guys. Joe McKnight has had some great runs. He is a dangerous guy and is one of the fastest backs in football, an explosive back. Obviously with Shonn Greene, I don't think you appreciate Shonn until it's tackle football and then you can see him and how he can run through arm tackles. I like where Shonn is at. I thought he's been catching the ball, with the one exception today, he's been catching the ball well.

I like where all of them are at in protection. They step in there and have been doing a better job of protection, I think, this year also.

On if Aaron Maybin needs to be more careful during practice…

Absolutely. That is something we've talked about. I love the way he plays and I love his passion, I love the way he practices, but we have to know that you still have to protect the running backs. You don't need to throw a guy on the ground. He does get there, he loves playing, he loves participating, loves practicing, competing, but that is still a work in progress.

On why he put Tebow in with the first team for a few plays…

Realistically, Sanchez was so hot. We're feeling great about ourselves. I can see it over there on offense and things. I said, "Hey, let's put Tim in there. The kid can't get any hotter than he is and he's feeling good. He's chomping at the bit, "I need the reps." Yeah, yeah, yeah, so just put him over there. He's fine, he's ready to go, he's itching to go. Let's see the other guy.

I thought Tim did some good things and in that period you've got to get that ball out of your hand quicker. Sometimes with someone like Tim and a Ben Roethlisberger, some of those bigger quarterbacks, they think they can hold the ball longer. We're trying to get the ball out of Tim's hands faster and he keeps working on it.

On if Tebow would be under pressure in game situations…

We're trying to pick it up, we're trying to get him to get that ball out quicker, and quite honestly on that one that he threw deep down the field, it would have been interesting to see, if that one was live, if the defense would've got him on the ground.

On if the offense is spending less time on drills because they are working on the tempo…

Right, and sometimes the break-in of the pocket, you do work those drills but we're trying to get the ball off in rhythm and I think that's what we're teaching right now. Obviously there will be plays along the line of where you break and contain and moving the pocket and things, but right now we had them putting a big emphasis on setting up, reading out our routes and delivering the ball on time.

On the progress of the offense…

I'm pretty excited about it, there's no doubt. We don't have a lot of the things in that we're going to, but we have been working a long time and working hard at it. Let's see it up against another defense, and I am excited to watch our guys compete.

On if Tebow will get any snaps with the first offensive line…

I doubt it.

On what he can learn about the new offense from playing another team's defense…

Well, I just think it's the next step. Guys are starting to get excited about it and all of that. Again, we don't have our whole offense in but it will be good to watch our guys compete and actually put that tempo out there against someone else.

On the competition at left guard…

Competition is great. Vlad [Ducasse] will play a lot but right now I will definitely give the edge to Matt [Slauson].

On if Ducasse could be used as an extra blocker in a jumbo package…

Well, that could be, but I want him to play some, whether it's left guard, right guard, and Matt can also be our backup center. We're working [Caleb] Schlauderaff in there as well. That's kind of where we are looking right now.

On having a rotation at left guard…

Well, you're not going to rotate every series but I think Vlad will play. I think he's earned that right. I think he's looked pretty good. I think right now we go with Matt. He's got the experience but he also looks really good to me.

On if Ducasse will be used as a tackle…

We like Vlad as a guard. It's kind of a combination. Austin Howard's been doing a nice job for us. We'll see how he steps in if Wayne can't go — he's got to fill in at right tackle and also play left tackle. So he's going to be playing a lot.

On how Muhammad Wilkerson has done in camp…

I think he looks tremendous. He's not the only one. This is the best Mike DeVito I've seen. He's healthy and I always kid him, "Golly, you look like an athlete now," so whatever that it is. I don't know if he took ballet classes or what but he looks really good to me.

And Kenrick Ellis is really coming on. He had a great battle, he goes up against Brandon Moore all the time and Nick Mangold. That's pretty good. But he actually beat Brandon. When you look at it statistically, and you know I've been pushing Brandon for the Pro Bowl all the time, that's because he's the only guard last year that never gave up a sack or a hit on the quarterback. I think in the three-year period it's not even close, him compared to any other guard in this league. So if you can beat Brandon Moore in a pass rush, you almost feel like you have to stop practice, and Kenrick did that.

On the growth of Sanchez and his maturity…

This point last year it was so different because we never had the offseason. It just feels way different than it did even. When we were out to training camp it was almost like we were trying to catch new players up and it just had a different feel to it. Maybe it's that we had camp back home instead of Cortland, maybe that has something to do with it.

I'm just much more comfortable right now and I can see the difference. Last year I thought he had a great grasp of our system. I don't think there's any doubt. I just see the way he's interacting with all of the groups, the offensive line, the receivers, the backs, you name it, even the defense. I just see that side of Mark that maybe I never saw before.

On if the players feel Sanchez is the leader of the offense…

I think you'd have to ask them.

On if he believes Sanchez is the leader of the offense…

I definitely do and the reason I say it is that he has all of the answers, he and Nick Mangold have all of the answers. So when you ask a question, when Tony asks a question in front of the group, if nobody else can answer it, there's two that I know can answer it. I'm not sure if Nick can get the route combination, but he may. He's pretty sharp.

On Tebow's impact on the team…

We've had this question a few times [laughter]. We brought in a good football player. Does somebody want to answer the rest of it? [laughter] But we did, we brought in a good football player that is going to help. This guy is going to help our football team. We have a starting quarterback in Mark Sanchez, that wasn't the deal. We brought in a guy that can obviously play quarterback but we love the competitiveness that he has and the competitor that he is and we're going to use his talents.

On Sione Po'uha's injury…

He does have a back and that big bandage is really the one that's keeping him from playing because he had those seven or eight stitches, he had a bunch of stitches in his head and really we don't want to risk that thing getting hit and opening up again, you start back from ground zero, so we just have to get that healed up. The back is one thing, but it's the head that's keeping him from playing.

On Jeremy Kerley's injury…

He's coming on. That's what I told him, I need my number 11 out there. I will say this, that little number 17, watch out for him, Jordan White. Golly, that kid can run routes. And I'm thinking, well, that's kind of an obvious thing to say, he did catch 140 balls last year, I guess he can run routes. He can catch the football, he seems to be a smart kid, and he's working hard, too. There's some guys that he had the same injury with other people and he's practicing right now and doing a great job. From my understanding, it's a tough injury to come back from, and he's already back. He's taking care of himself and he's doing a great job in the classroom as well as on the practice field.

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