REX: Kenrick Has Been Outstanding

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's news conference before the Jets' Monday afternoon practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center:

All right, here we go. Finally, regular season, game week. I know it's a bonus day, but it feels good. I think we got a lot accomplished in training camp. The preseason games obviously didn't go the way that we would have liked on the scoreboard, but I think we'll be ready to roll. It's just exciting to get ready to play somebody and to game-plan specifically about a specific opponent. I'm excited to see that. I think we're all excited to see some Wildcat plays and things. Again, just playing against an opponent, it just picks up, the difference between a preseason game and a regular season game is wow, it just goes up a notch. I'm just excited to see our guys and see our guys compete.

On if it feels like it's been a long time since he prepared for a regular-season game...

It does because you're in Cortland, you have a long time through training camp, and then your preseason games, you break camp, you're evaluating your roster and all these type of things and it does take time. It just seems like a long time. Now when it's here, it's like this is it. All that work that you've done, all the work that the players have done, the lifting, all the meetings and things, it's for this. It's not to win a preseason game, it's to be at your very best when the regular season starts.

On playing a game that matters…

Well, I think they all matter. With that being said, all games matter but for the regular season, yeah, wins and losses absolutely because nobody counts your wins and losses on your preseason record and they don't help you get to the playoffs. I think those games are always important but yeah, it's been a long time, it's no doubt.

On if they will be running the Wildcat against the Bills…

I think if we don't, everybody's going to be like, "Wait a second, you guys have been saying about this Wildcat and we haven't even seen one snap of it." But sure we're going to run some Wildcat, there's no doubt. Is it specific that it's just against the Buffalo defense? No, it's not obviously. In fact, this team will probably be as prepared to face the Wildcat as any team we'll face with the fact that David Lee is there, he's their quarterbacks coach, outstanding quarterbacks coach. He's the guy that really brought it to Tony [Sparano], helped Tony put the Wildcat in this league. They're going to be prepared. They have Brad Smith, who obviously did a tremendous job for us as a Wildcat quarterback. This team's going to be prepared. We'll see who out-executes the other.

On how much they have to prepare for Buffalo's Wildcat package…

That's part of it now. Anytime you have a weapon like Brad Smith, you have to be prepared for it. We'll benefit from having to face [Tim] Tebow and the Wildcat here, they're going to benefit having to face Brad. So I think both teams might not be surprised by what they do with the Wildcat, but you still have to prepare for it.

On if facing the Wildcat in practice has made the defense better prepared to face it…

Yeah, I think we've done a decent job in the past facing Wildcat, but again, you have to be sound and you have to do a great job of tackling. A lot of times it's some 1-on-1 football and you've got to be an excellent tackling team. I think we are but yeah, I think going against our Wildcat, it should help our defense.

On injury updates for Sione Po'uha and Dustin Keller…

I don't really have any bonus coverage for that right now. We'll know more about it on Wednesday. I'm still not real sure on Sione. I'm anticipating Dustin being able to play. Barring a setback, I think he plays.

On if Po'uha and Keller will practice today…

We'll see. I would tend to think that they wouldn't. Just because of the [Keller] hamstring, we might wait until Wednesday. That way you get two more days. But we'll see what John [Mellody] has them doing today.

On if Po'uha suffered any setbacks that would keep him from playing against Buffalo…

That could very well be. I don't want to give you a definitive absolutely when that has never been said to me.

On Po'uha's injury...

Sometimes backs are tricky. If you go out there too early and have a setback with it, that can really set you back. But he's been getting better. He actually has weights down, he's been able to do some things, but he really hasn't practiced football. I don't want to say he's ready to go. Playing that position, I don't know if you can just run out there without competing on the practice field with each other.

On if he's confident in Kenrick Ellis if Po'uha does not play…

Well, in a way that kind of forces you. That's more the thing where with Sione it's like, let's make sure he's back because Kenrick has been outstanding. And let's make sure Sione's back. Let's not have him if he's not ready to go, at or near 100 percent, then we don't need to put him out there right now. So let's make sure we get Sione back healthy. But Kenrick clearly is really playing well for us.

On if Po'uha will be limited to a certain number of plays when he returns and if his injury played a role in the team claiming Isaako Aaitui off waivers from Miami…

Yeah, that could be. You hit it great with that nose tackle guy. Because Tui — I think we'll call him that, because you're right, I've got no chance. [Mike] Tannenbaum claimed he signed him because he wants me to pronounce his name. You're right. He's a good football player. But he's a young guy that we're going to work at both spots, really more at tackle, focus him more at tackle than nose tackle because I feel good about where we're at nose tackle wise with obviously, Sione, Kenrick and Big Snacks [Damon Harrison] over there. So we'll see how it goes.

The pitch count, it makes sense, we'll leave that up to Mellody. John did a great job with LaRon Landry. We put him on that pitch count and we got him here. It's funny I don't see any negative comments really about the Landry deal or Yeremiah Bell. I don't understand it. That one seemed to work out for us so far. I think it's smart what we did with LaRon to make sure that he's ready to go by Buffalo. And I'll lean on those guys [trainers]. They're the experts and if they feel it's important to have him on a similar pitch count, then that's what we'll do.

On the release of Marcus Dixon…

I think Marcus, he clearly can play. There is no question about that. I've mentioned it before, I knew we were going to end up cutting some good football players. There's no question about it. And when you try to put your team together, and what your team needs to be successful and things like that, there might've been some other options, but clearly Marcus Dixon's a good football player. And we'll see what the future holds. Maybe he'll be back.

On if Dixon was outplayed by Harrison…

It was a little different. I think they play different positions. I think Harrison's more of the true nose tackle type, where Marcus is more of the tackle/end type. But I thought Harrison played well, I thought Marcus played well. Sometimes the younger guy gets the benefit of the doubt.

On if cutting Dixon was a football decision…

Well, I think when you look at it, [it's not just] performance but also position. When you're looking at it, we do feel fortunate. We do have Sione [who] hasn't practiced, but I think you feel great about where Kenrick is and Harrison, and when Sione gets back, that would be obviously an area of strength for us.

On if cutting Dixon was a cost-cutting measure…

I don't know about the cost-cutting measure. I think you'll probably have to ask Mike about that or Ari [Nissim]. But [Aaitui]'s more of a big-body type, I think he's 320-some pounds, where Marcus is like 280, 285. So maybe body-type wise. This is a good football player, you guys will see. I'm sure when you talk to the people down at Miami they can tell you the same thing. We'll see what he does. And I think sometimes there's decisions based on things. I think, in this league you always look to try to go younger and sometimes that plays against veteran players. But with us, we had a chance we thought, to add a really good football player and that's what we did.

On his SI.com comment on Stephen Hill…

That one took off way different [direction] than [I intended it to]. I was actually talking about our scouting department, Mike T, [Terry] Bradway and the guys who identified Stephen Hill. To me I'm saying, "Oh a receiver," I was kind of laughing that thing off. I've even said it here, "This wasn't my guy," meaning he's exceeded where I thought a rookie receiver would be, without question. The fact he was from Georgia Tech, nothing against Georgia Tech, great program, but we talk about us being ground-and-pound, Georgia Tech, that's major ground-and-pound. How quick can he pick things up? Well, he's picked it up way faster than I thought. I was excited about, here's a guy that can run a sub-4.3 [40-yard dash] and he's 6"-5' — you love those measurables that he has.

But then you see him on the practice field. He gets off press, he runs good routes. And when we sent Sanjay [Lal] to work him out, he was very impressed. What I was kidding about was "Oh man, we're going to take a receiver," and it just got blown up like he's not my pick. I'm always trying to convince you guys, "Oh, no, he is my pick." He's definitely my pick now because I think he's going to have a really bright future. For some reason, they want to focus on that. I forgot who the guy I talked with, Don Banks, call him and see my tone of what it was. I would say, go ahead and call him because I clearly was meaning it [in a positive way]. I was trying to say things in a joking manner, but clearly trying to say how happy [I was with Stephen Hill and our scouting department]. Our scouting department is terrific, absolutely terrific.

On the intrigue of Tim Tebow and hiding the Wildcat.…

I understand where it has come from. Tim, forget just being a popular football player, he's a popular person. I can understand that there's a lot of interest there, but it's kind of funny really. We're just trying to field a good football team, in any way possible. I said from day one, I thought Tim was an outstanding football player and the fact we're using him as a personal protector [and] the fact he can run Wildcat, we've said that from day one. We just haven't put it out there in the preseason games. I guess we'll find out on Sunday how much we'll use him that particular week.

On not running the Wildcat in the preseason…

We never ran it. I guess we never appeased whoever by not putting him out there. If that added to it, that wasn't our intent. Our intent was there's no sense showing it right now in the preseason, just like I'm sure a lot of teams are saving specific things for their openers. We're not different than a lot of teams doing that.

On if C.J. Spiller ran the Wildcat for Buffalo this preseason…

I never really saw Brad [Smith] run it and that's the guy you're going to run it with. Brad has been nicked up apparently. Look, Spiller is a perfect guy to run that flash thing. They used it in the past, but you know they have Brad Smith there. They're going to use Brad Smith. Brad is clearly a guy that can throw it. He can run it. He was tremendous for us. He averaged eight yards a carry. That's who we're going to get ready to see run it. They picked up [Tyler] Thigpen, [who] can run some of it. They got [Tarvaris] Jackson, who they just traded for. [He] has movement skills, but that doesn't mean you're a Wildcat quarterback. I think Brad Smith clearly is a Wildcat quarterback.

On how many touchdowns he wants to score on Sunday…

I don't care about how many we score. I don't care about any of that. I just want to have one more point than the Bills do and that's every week. It doesn't matter. The defense has to hold them to this. The offense has to score. We don't care. It's all about getting one more point than the opponent and that's it. If that means we don't score a touchdown and we still win, we'll be happy and the Jet fans will be happy.

On if he talked to the players today or let the veterans set the tempo for the week…

I already talked to them a little bit today. Really, it's just to congratulate them. Playing in the National Football League, and I always talk about this, these are special guys that play in this league. I tell them this every year and they're probably tired of me saying it, but it's easier to win a lottery than it is to play in the National Football League.

For the kids who are being recruited by colleges, those kids need to make sure they get an education because that's the truth. Every kid who gets a Division I scholarship thinks he's going to play in this league. In actuality, that's not the case at all. That's how special these guys are. They're the best of the best. When you look at it that way and when somebody told me that, I thought it was perfect because we all think it's impossible to win the lottery. Even though some people do, there are greater odds of that than playing in the league.

On if he knows Joe McKnight's injury status…

No, I sure don't, but Joe said he thinks he's going to play.

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