Rex's Friday News Conference

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Transcript of Jets head coach Rex Ryan's news conference following Friday's midday practice:    

We've had some good days of practice. It's good. I think the energy's been good and I think our guys have looked – it's not like we haven't looked professional before – but it looked like these guys get it. The professionalism, you have some built in distractions with Thanksgiving in the middle of the week and everything, but our guys are focused. Carolina is going to get the best of us. There is no doubt about it. They're going to get everything we have and we'll see. We'll see how we do, but I can tell you this, we are a focused football team. You don't look down the road at all. This is our mission – this week. It's a talented football team we're playing. A very physical, aggressive team. Their offensive line is big and powerful. You have some top running backs and that is where it's going to start. You have a quarterback that led his team to a Super Bowl before. One of the best receivers in the game. On defense they have two very special players and a bunch of good players. This one we know is going to take everything we've got, but we're willing to give it, I believe.

The injury deal, [Donald] Strickland will be out as will [Dwight] Lowery. They will both be listed as out. Vernon Gholston will be probable. He went full practice today. I don't have that whole list with me, but we should be, outside of Lowery and Strickland, guys should be ready to roll.

On sitting in with the offense…

It's been good. It's funny, we have great teachers. We have some guys that are really phenomenal teachers. Of course you know that. You look at Henry Ellard, Bill Callahan, Anthony Lynn, [Matt] Cavanaugh, this is a great group of assistants, obviously led by Schotty [Brian Schottenheimer]. It's never been a question of me not having confidence in that group because clearly I do have confidence. It is interesting when you really get in there and you start listening to the particulars and how the players respond. Wow, it's a real unified effort in there, a group effort to get the thing done. We're certainly all on the same page. That's really been impressive.

On how Mark Sanchez has responded…

I think he's had his best week of practice. That's what it appears to me. Nobody wants it more. He takes it personal and when he does, he puts it all out there. He is doing everything he can. Nobody in this organization prepares as hard as he does, I'm just telling you. He's here, he's leading, he's studying. He is doing everything it takes. That's what you love about him. We knew we were getting that gym rat-type guy. I think that is critical for the position he plays. He's been absolutely fantastic in his preparation.

On if the New England game sparked Sanchez…

I don't know if he's really needed a spark. He's fairly consistent with his preparation. I've just noticed it more. This is the time that usually the rookies hit that wall where he is doing just the opposite. He is breaking through that wall. We'll see how he performs, but I have a lot of confidence in him. I think he's going to have a great game.

On why Sanchez throws the ball in situations that he knows are mistakes…

That is a great point and that is a term that Schotty uses all the time: "You have to say uncle." The competitiveness in Mark has been getting him into trouble. We have to do a great job of this, when he makes a mistake the first thing you want to do it get back. "I want to get back and make up for it. Atone for the mistake." And that's probably the thing you can't do. I think sometimes that is where he's forcing the issue a little bit. I don't believe that is going to happen. He really understands his responsibility to this football team and to this organization and protecting that football. I know for a fact that he probably knew it then but he really knows it now. I'm expecting to see Mark playing with more understanding than that.

On the defense not playing well in the first half…

When I came in after the game against New England I just thought we never starter fast in either game, those last two games. And then when you really went back at the tape, we actually did start pretty good on defense. Three-and-out in the first series against New England, which is no easy task, and then to get the turnover on the second series that they had, it just never seemed like it. I guess it's because you're down, 7-0, and then it ends up 14-0 before it's the end of the first quarter. That's probably why I felt that way. It is something we are definitely focused on. We have to get out. You have to arrive focused, angry, on a mission that we have to get this thing done and we can't wait until halftime to decide we're going to play defense.

In what he's looking for from Vernon Gholston…

Just steady improvement. Improve his game. As long as it's going this way, that you keep improving, then he's going to be just fine. It's when you level off or start taking a nosedive, that's when you have some issues. Unfortunately, he's coming off the injury. I don't know how much he'll play. He will be up this week. I'm not sure how much he'll play right now. Obviously, he's a guy that I want to see play. I think before he got hurt I still kept seeing this. I haven't seen the great strides, but I saw where he's getting better.

It's a process. It's not like he's the only guy this has ever happened to. I understand where he was drafted and expectations immediately happen that way, but I bet you can look at that draft and see some players that were probably drafted before him have some struggles as well. This is not an easy league to play in, the size, the speed of it. Eventually I think he'll be the player that everyone wants him to be. Sometimes you have to have patience.

On if he has certain expectations for players drafted as high…

I'd be lying if I said you didn't have certain expectations because I think you do. When you take a guy in the first round, first thing you do is you can't wait to get him on the practice field. To get him up. You're not going to put him at the bottom, like 'You're playing third team'. You're automatically going to be at least second team after you draft him. I think coach-speak would say they're all the same, but that's not really true. You do have expectations, but you know there are going to be growing. You know he's not going to be right here to start with, but you want to see him start going like this. You want to see that upward climb reaching his ability level as fast as he can.

When I came in I was all excited to see him. I watched the tapes and I just want to see him get better. I still want to see him get better each day, get that practice field with a purpose. Eventually he is going to be just fine. He has so much God-given ability, it's just watching it translate. That position change is tough on a lot of guys. I saw Adalius Thomas fail at that position change that first time. Here is an unbelievably gifted athlete also. The next year we turn right back around and put him out there and he ended up going to a Pro Bowl having 11 or 12 sacks, scored four defensive touchdowns. Eventually, the light comes on and it's like, "Man, I can't believe I struggled." We're waiting to see that happen.

On if he feels bad about how the news of Kerry Rhodes being benched got out…

It's unfortunate and things happen. I don't know if the benching thing is that accurate because he is playing in several packages. He's just not playing in as many. So is he benched in regular personnel groups that we're going to put Eric Smith in there instead of him? That's true, but he's still going to be playing a lot of defense for us. I think he's had some good days in practice. He did drop an interception, so he's still in my doghouse I guess. No, I'm just kidding. Those things happen and it happens all the time to people.

I had Chris McAlister who's an outstanding corner make the Pro Bowl that year that we benched him. Sometimes you're going to have good days. Sometimes you're going to have better days or worse days. It's just one of those things. I have a lot of confidence in Kerry. I think he can end up being a top player in this League. I want to see it. I expect him to be at a different level now than maybe what he's played at. That's a realistic statement.

On if it bothers him how the information about Rhodes got out…

We had Kerry come in and I talked to him and several of our coaches, Dennis Thurman, Mike Pettine. We had some conversations with Kerry. I still don't know how it got out. That is unfortunate. Is it an advantage to Carolina? I'm not sure. It doesn't need to get out like that, but it did.

On him saying at the beginning of minicamps that he didn't know if Eric Smith was going to be here…

It's funny that you mention that and how a player's role on a football team can change. When I got in, I never knew a whole lot about Eric Smith. He came in and was running with the third string safeties through the minicamps. When we were going through that first minicamp, I thought that was the right place to put him. It's funny because I guess and I can understand that here a guy has started, but we brought Jim Leonhard in. That automatically knocked him down some, so I can see where he probably wasn't at it his best during those things. He stuck with it You have two ways you can react. You can feel self-pity or you can grab your boots, pull them up and say, "OK, let's roll."

That's exactly what he did. He was going to show us. He was going to show me what kind of player he was. Let me tell you, it didn't take me long to realize that man are we glad we kept him. You can't wait to find a role for a guy like that. That's why we play all these packages and Eric is in there. He plays like a starter even before, obviously, where he's at now. He did it. He decided that he was going to study. That he was going to prepare. He was going to give himself a chance and he was going to show us. He did. There is no doubt about it. He showed us. From that first mini camp on, he probably had the best mini camp of anybody and great training camp. He's played extremely well in the regular season for us.

On if Smith will continue to have a main role on special teams…

Yes. I think he has to because he's a vital part of what we do on special teams. It's going to be hard for him, but I wouldn't bet against him. I think he'll be just fine. He's in great shape. You have to be. You've got to be in great condition and Eric is.

On the schedule for next week…

That typical Monday practice is not typical. We'll come in right after this game. We'll get a lift – offense and defense. One will be lifting, one will be meeting. Then you'll switch it up. We'll have a team meeting and start right there. From about 11 o'clock on, we'll start on preparing for Buffalo. There is no wasted time. You get through the game, then 'Bam' you're right back on to Buffalo. That's the way it is. You've got to back off on the players. We'll go to more of a walk-through schedule on Monday and Wednesday. Then do some shells on Tuesday and play the game on Thursday.

On if it helps the game plan preparation that they have played the Bills once before this season…

I think they'll be very similar as will we, obviously. Where it would really be tough is if you never knew each other and you were just starting from scratch. It would be really tough. I think the fact that we played against each other, there is really no advantage for either team.

On the pass at New England that Braylon Edwards didn't catch...

The ball was tipped, but I'd love to see Braylon catch it. It was like "Oh, he'll catch it, Braylon." That's kind of how I felt on it. It's a third-and-short and you'd love to see him come down with that ball. You want to see your guy catch it. But officially the one in end zone where the ball was jarred loose, neither one of them were rule a drop by the NFL statistical gurus. Braylon might be right. I think we all wish he caught both those balls. He's competitive. We've got to get him that thing.

I will say this, the catch that kid from Denver [Brandon Marshall] had yesterday was incredible. The one that Braylon made on the practice field yesterday was better than that. I don't think I've ever seen a guy in person make some of the catches he does on the practice field. The thing that has been really impressive with Braylon is the fact that he's an amazing worker on the practice field. I don't know why I would be not expecting that, but his level on the practice field is phenomenal. I think most of the great players do practice like that. [Darrelle] Revis practices like that. D'Brickashaw [Ferguson] practices like that.

On Edwards saying he would like to stay with the Jets next season…

I'd love to have him here past this year. I'd love to see him catch a ton of balls, come out and catch 10 balls, be fantastic and he just may. What he's done for football team is really what I thought he could do –get the coverage rolling to him, open up some of his teammates, not just himself – and I think he's accomplished that. I think the more he's here, the more he's been around and to get an offseason here with the guys, I think he can be just like he was in Cleveland that one year – just a big time guy. I'd love to see him lead the League in catches and touchdowns. He's got that kind of ability. I definitely want him here.

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